My name is Gabriela. Papa used to call me Marie. Nobody understood why. Mama believed that Marie was the secret name of his mother who was an actress. As far as I know my grandmother’s name was Lucrecia, and she was no actress. She was born into a religious family. Her uncle was a bishop. I have no idea how Mama came up with this story about my grandmother being an actress and having a secret name.
I cannot write anymore. If you want me to do it, you will have to lock me in the library. Only there silences become words, and words become soft and puffy like two humongous winter breasts glowing in the last rays of a sweet and sticky sunset.
Yesterday, I got lost in the sacrality of the winter carnival with its colors and aromas of musicality, and its hands of poetry extended to the moon and beyond.
Oh, no, you locked the library door.
I start knotting the thin rosy bodies of the quiet words that make the four thousand volumes that reside in here. An aerial bridge extends over the world. Dressed in a full-moon regalia, I walk on it. Around me birds amalgamate the winds of the North with those of the South. I see stars floating on the seas. Blue meadows wave to me.
I cry. My tears reach the earth, and each and one of them grows into a new poem.
I love how you dress for weddings: the repetitive movements of your fingers when you knot your bow-tie and that splendid nakedness of the white rose on your lapel, a true nuditas virtualis that makes me dream of the birth of a god in the zodiacal sign of Virgo.
I miss the glow of your face in the candlelight, the vibration of the wine glass’ crystal stem between your fingers, the memorable tunes of the waltz coiling around your senses.
It is dark. I lay on the sofa and the smell of pain killers and sedatives dwells in my nostrils. I can hear the noise of the withered leaves coming from outside. It frightens me. The sweetness of the nuditas virtualis fades away. I think of Emma Bovary, the so-called narcissistic self-deluded character, the adulterous woman, the daydreamer, the nuditas criminalis par excellence.
How pathetic and enslaved by time our judgments are. If Emma were a man, she would have had the masculine license to thirst for the feminine. No judgements would have been passed. There is no masculine equivalent of Emma Bovary in literature. Profoundly telling, don’t you think?
Emma committed the mortal sin of having affairs. She killed herself as self-punishment, we are told. How ignorant people who think so are. Turn the page and think of Emma as the woman who pitied the birth of her own daughter. Have you ever stopped to think why she would do that?
Those winds and the frightening noise of the withered leaves.
Where are you?
You do not visit anymore. You forgot your white rose on the head on my sofa. I need to tell you again. I love how you dress for weddings.
My poetry is neither the chronicle of my sufferings nor the chronicle of my loves as many seem to believe. It does not contain the description of my marital status nor that of my accomplishments. It does not record my joys or my passions with the precision of a timeclock. It does not dwell in my sadness. Sadness is the place where I dwell when I write the word sea and I cannot understand its meaning the way Elytis understood it. I was not born in Hellada. I can use that as an excuse for my poetic inadequacies.
My poetry is that which comes from the realm of the unfulfilled. It is the echo of the waves that you can guess but cannot see because they are not born yet. It is the voice of the blood that dries on the feet of the prophets. It is the dream of my cheeks that you will never touch. My poetry is the body of a Sunday that forgot to put walnuts and cinnamon in its baklava. It is the promise of tomorrow.
Three years ago I bought a silver icon at an auction. The icon belonged to the M. family. They used to be one of the most preeminent families on the island of Crete. Hellada was tattooed in my non-Hellenistic soul by the will of my parents, not by mine. You cannot stage a coup against your own baptism when you are four months old.
I was in love in Hellada. So much for “Let’s fall in love in Spain.” Every time the church bells tolled, he, the one who loved me, used to bring me daffodils. One daffodil for each bell toll. When the church bells stopped tolling I had so many daffodils that I could not carry them anymore. I had to let them fall on the ground.
I ran and I took the first ship out of Piraeus.
Until this day he – the one who loves me – still waits for the girl that will keep his daffodils and marry him.
Of course, he does. There is always the promise of tomorrow. There is always my poetry and there is always one more night of passion.
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I can see the woman who assumes things. Every night she picks the flowers that I throw on the road: withered lilies of the valley. She wants to be me. She wants my blood. She does not know I rearranged the bell-shaped whites so no one else can breathe their sweet scents. No one else can be me. No one else can make you, you.
The woman puts the withered flowers in her bag.
A new moon rises over her left shoulder. Bad luck.
I rush to protect her.
Before he died my father said:
If you try to do justice to the wicked, you will forget to do justice to the virtuous. And if you forget to do justice to the virtuous you only work for yourself. That is the biggest sin of all.
Feminine sexual scars: real, invented, and in some cases only dreamed. Wounds exposed in plain view in order to obtain something in exchange. If not justice, then sympathy. If not sympathy, then the attention of a certain male prototype.
A desperation to direct the masculine imagination toward the submissive feminine with its painful blows; blows exacerbated by the brutality of our patriarchal society. Yet something more was added to that: female purple skin calling for the asperity of males’ touches, abandon, suggested nudity, swollen lips, tons of adjectives filled with a sickening excess of sweetness.
I remember him saying.
An entire arsenal of attraction built on wounds that should be sanctified not used to incite maleness. Those women hang their sexual lesions like paintings on walls for the sole purpose of giving males glimpses under their underwear.
C’mon. You know it.
I did not. However, he was a man of high intellect. It was difficult to go against him. I had to wait. I had to outmaneuver him.
So, I played my feminine submissive part. Add some madness to that and I am quite sure I looked like Ophelia running from room to room dressed in black negligees incapable of understanding my own distress. What a nightmare.
It was a sort of dematerialization that left behind the scent of orange blossoms and the vague memory of sultry afternoons growing by the margins of the pond: those afternoons in need for seed germination. I am sure you can remember them.
You and your love for me which have always looked for my blood. I told you I am air and therefore I do not have a body. I fill the space in which other bodies manifest themselves.
I am every breath you take in your nights of love when …please continue readinghere
He acted like what he was: one of the most handsome and wealthiest bankers of the city.
Nightly candlelight parties in his villa whose balconies opened toward the ocean. Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac: deep reds and an unmistakable taste of eucalyptus. Coquilles Saint-Jacques, escargots, Provencal fish stew whose aroma imbibed the corridors from lazy late afternoons until early mornings when it was replaced by that of coffee and freshly baked croissants.
It was an act. He looked like a man who while sleeping with one woman thought of another. Teeth planted in warm lips in an eerie absentness of mind; nothing less than automatism. His entire being was consumed by something else, something as imperative as the birth of a child: the naked vision of a woman whom he could not have.
excerpt from my manuscript Remembrance of Love (working title)