A velvety evening sky was settling over us. Angelo and I sat in beach chairs overlooking the water. Miguel was lying at my feet, sand in his hair, his face still, glistening in the dusk. A shy breeze was coming from the south.
Angelo turned his piercing eyes toward me, and broke the silence:
“Here is where you went wrong, Guinevere.”
Oh no! What sense was there in going again and again over the past? Didn’t the three of us talk ten thousand times about what happened? Didn’t we resurrect ghosts night after night, only to bury them, deep down in our memories, at the first sign of dawn?
Angelo did not stop.
“Guinevere, you have always mistaken reality for your imagination. Funny, when one thinks that most people mistake their imagination for reality. But not you, Guinevere, not you!”
I recoiled. It sounded like a judgment, and Angelo was never judgmental to me. My muscles tensed, my sight blurred. I said nothing.
“First, it was that small shop on Rue de Vaugirard: the marionette shop. It was there where Jacques first touched your thigh covered by that black silky skirt of yours, Guinevere. I know you think that that never happened. Yet, at a certain level, you must have known that Jacques was falling in love with you, but you decided that it was just your imagination. You convinced yourself that you imagined everything.”
In one second I was on my feet trembling. Was I screaming?
“You two, I have no idea what you are talking about! That touch never happened! I said it ten thousand times. Jacques never touched me. Jacques never wrote to me the letter that you got, god knows from where. I have no idea who wrote it! It wasn’t him. Jacques and I were never in that hotel room! I’ve never seen that hotel room! That night Jacques was not coming to see me! I never called him! It’s not me that I am imagining things, it’s you! And you Miguel, if you believed that Jacques….”
I stopped. For a second, all of us remained still. Slowly Miguel rose from the sand. He open his arms to embrace me. It was too late. I was already thrown into my memories, chained again to my past, tortured by its unbearable painful voices.
I ran toward the ocean. The salty water glued my dress to my body, caressed my burning thighs, wiped my century-old tears. In the dark, I went deeper and deeper looking for the bottom. Few seconds, and I felt Miguel’s body wrapping around mine. His arms were pulling me up.
I started coughing. The night air was penetrating my burning lungs. I was back on the beach: Miguel’s hands caressing my wet hair, Angelo’s distraught face above me.
Miguel whispered: “It never happened Guinevere, it never happened, my love.”
And yet something terrible must have happened, before Jacques left Paris, something that was deeply buried in my memory, something that I was refusing to acknowledge. Was Jacques coming to see me that ghastly night? Was he?
A horrifying thought came to me. I started shivering. Miguel, Angelo, and I would not be put in different heavens or hells. We were going to the same place, so we can continue to obsess over and over about Jacques’ imagined love for me, and that dreadful fated night that changed our lives forever!
Excerpt from the manuscript “Haunted Lovers.” Post first published under the title “Clara: The Power of Water.”
The emerald sound of the solitary ocean imprints in my soul red petals of inquietude. It rains love in the universe. I gather delicate drops into my palms. I can see the contour of your body in each drop. In the humid air, calcified waves design amorphous temples embellished with forbidden geometrical mysteries. Coming from distant constellations your voice spirals around each wave:
“Our love metamorphosed the altar of the day into the altar of the night. And the altar of the night into the altar of the day. It changed rain drops into yellow drops of perfumed wax, now trickling eternally at the feet of mythical saints. The morning star, dethroned by your ethereal glow, became a vague lyrical memory. Millions of suns were pushed by the blaze of our love toward the margins of the universe.
The movements of your body against mine give birth to new universes. Your touches cloak my skin into new zodiac signs. Your kisses form new violet maps on my lips. Caressing your delicate ankles, I am listening to Shiva’s cosmic dance. I am watching you. You are taming lions. You are awakening fairies. The god of war lies wounded at your feet. Stella Polaris is shining in your eyes.
I was a neophyte when it came to love. You transfigured me into the King of Love.”
A slightly modified version was published in The Perfectly Imperfect Bunch.
I am driving from Athens to Patras on E-94. On my left steep mountains, made out of white rock, sparsely covered by shrubs. On my right the Gulf of Corinth adorned by the early, dazzling morning light. Its waters are calm, dreamy, soothed in an ineffable silence: the silence which reigned before the beginning of the world. The views are savagely beautiful: mountains and waters coming together, eternally caught in a fearful, hushed battle.
There is only one car behind me. I slow down. The car drives past me. Intoxicated by the beauty of the landscape I close my eyes for a second. In a flash, I am overwhelmed by the premonition of a sudden event. Chills are running through my body, icing my every fiber, cooling my heated soul, slowing the flow of my blood. I open my eyes. And then it happens.
I start breathing in an unfamiliar rhythm. The sun metamorphoses into a golden liquid: hundreds of glittering rivers are inundating the blue of the sky. The water starts murmuring. The pendulum of the earth goes astray. The North Pole disappears. The icy castle of wisdom, and thought melts before my eyes. The earth becomes a heated humongous ball, carried by Atlas on his mythical shoulder.
A nude nymph, beautiful, wild, appears in the middle of the road. Her black hair is tightly braided, her skin white like milk. She runs in the front of my car. Bewildered I press the brake. She looks toward me, laughs, and rapidly starts climbing the mountain on my left. The shrubs are scratching her skin.
My legs are tingling, and then pain: the pain from the scratches. I can feel the barren shrubs penetrating my skin. Sonorous blood drops are dribbling on the white rock. The rhythm, I can heart it! My blood’s drops keep the time like a grandfather clock. I am climbing faster now. My soul becomes an alembic where ecstasy and fear are equally distilled. Why am I afraid? Why am I running? No, it’s not me who runs! The nymphs does! She just reached the margins of a small forest. She turns her head around.
I can see him now! An ephebus follows her, his body tense, his passionate eyes wide open, his clothes torn, his feet rapidly crushing the heated mountain rock. He is about the catch her. He is going to catch her! The ecstasy from the beginning of the world penetrates every cell of my body.
Dog barking tears the air apart. Here she is, carrying her bow: Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and forests, the virgin daughter of Zeus, the sister of Apollo! She throws herself in front of the nymph. The ephebus stops like hit by lightning. Pain, I feel pain, and my body turns cold!
Artemis’ eyes on the ephebus are turning him into stone. He can’t move anymore. He is white rock now. The nymph disappears into the woods. Her laughter dies. In the forest’s silence, the goddess’ eyes filled with cruelty. The universe is shedding tears. No new world will be born today.
My arms ache. I take my foot from the brake. It’s over. My breath returns to normal. I slowly pull the car on the right of the road, and stop. Out of nowhere, I feel his frigid hand touching mine. I turn my head. Jacques is sitting by me, his blue eyes piercing into me. Why is he here? I left him behind in Athens. I left him with Miriam and Angelo.
I stare at him, and suddenly I can hear barking coming from the forest. Oh, no! Please, not again!
I almost scream at him “Run, she is going to turn you into a stone!” He smiles “She can’t anymore. Somebody else has already turned me into a stone. You know who. Don’t you remember what you did, Guinevere, don’t you?”
Published first in The Perfectly Imperfect Bunch
Anything can be said about that city, but one can never say that it does not have a distinct identity.
During the humid autumn evenings the city looks like a wounded being, nursing her own lacerations. On the sidewalks her dust is freely flowing, its smell overpowering the stench of cigarettes, and alcohol coming from her tiny, obscure pubs.
Clandestine risings to power, luxury cars zipping by, casinos filled with shady characters, rats zig-zagging in the basements of old buildings. Plenty of frustrations, running through the city’s blood like thousands of white blood cells through the veins of an infected patient.
A sea of beggars at every street corner: amputated hands, deep lesions, winkled faces painted in the colors of dirt. Pain exposed in plain view, like art objects in museums: the only difference being that pain is free; the entry in most museums is not.
The city’s decrepit buildings are haunted, and ghoulish masks are worn during its carnivals.
In that city our story began: a story in which we created and destroyed loves, trusted and betrayed friendships, invented beauty only to quickly eradicate it at the first sign of dawn. We tried to satisfy our egos. We ended up satisfying the city’s need to devour us.
“We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behaviour and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it. I can think of no better identification.”
Lawrence Durrell, Justine
Play in your room the mandolin tonight
Painting the air with aurora borealis’ verses
When arabesque designs awake my soul
The shining sound the time reverses.
Play in the streets your mandolin tonight
Into the touching of the cords your love for me
The beatings of my heart will choreograph the scenes
Making the aurora australis never flee.
When you are done, come to my room
We can unmake the bed, and lie in silence still
Immersed into the sounds of astral mandolins
Watching hermetic lovers dancing the quadrille.
The echoes of my footsteps living
Into the silence of the corridors in which Vlad walked.
Caresses of my hands impressing
The church’s door which the Impaler blocked.
The touching of my lips embellished in the icons
In front of which Vlad often murmured prayers.
Into the orthodox exhilarating morning’s noises
Vlad’s enemies were killed and piled in layers.
And no more tales in this archaic night, my prince
The oath which I have taken in the Balkans is a bond
Vlad’s story is more terrifying than you think
No changes can be made by any magic wand.
That said, my darling Western prince, this night
Let’s live in the imagination of an Irish writer!
Bring costumes, lanterns, castles, and vampires,
Don’t be afraid, come to my room, I’m not a biter!
Or, am I?
Give me the power to endure
The wind that’s blowing from the oceans
Its colors mixing earth and sky
With magical, erotic potions.
Give me the power to surrender
To violent, burning rain of kisses
Under forgotten constellations
To understand what your soul misses.
finally now when I’m leaving,
Give me the power to survive
The pain of Mary Magdalene
In the three days of agony
Before the playing of last scene.
She came into my room last night
Ascending from the past, prepared to bite.
I looked at her, and then I said:
Oh, welcome back my dear pain
I’ll throw at you with all I can!
I’ll hit you in the head with David’s stone
And hammer nails into your bones!
I’ll stick a Viking arrow in your heart
And poison your disgusting tart!
I’ll cut your tentacles with Turkish knives
And take away your hateful lives!
Still alive? Well, then…
I’ll versify to you, my dear pain
Until I’ll make you go insane!
Give me the echoes of the steps
Walking solemnly through the corridors of heart
In the last autumn of your love
Give me the magic of the Tarot card.
Give me the boat which never leaves the shore
Give me the wisdom of a Buddhist monk
In the last minute of your love
The desperation of the hopes which sunk.
Give me the scent of the ethereal kiss
Give me the glamour hidden in piano keys
In the last second of your love
Give me the majesty of tropic trees.