Friday, October 16, 2009

Albert DeGenova: Postcard from Napoli

Train Rome to Naples, countryside covered in grapevines, orchards planted in careful rows, tomatoes already sprouting—the fields are planted around, along the hills, the sturdy thick farmers walk the hard ancient paths—cows and goats know more than they say—soil of these fields, layer after layer of fertile decay, generation upon generation of bones, olive pits, and grape stems—my peasant legs ache to walk these terraced hills, the stamina of time and grandfathers’ DNA—in our train compartment Cole sleeps, Max listens to his brother’s iPod, Eden reads Karma and searches for the goddesses, I write in a notebook—sharing our compartment an older Italian couple pours coffee from a thermos, fills water from a glass bottle into small paper cups, a roll of paper towels for wiping the man’s sweating bald head—I can smell the sweet juicy ripeness of the pear he slices with a well-used pocketknife, the handle smooth and black—

First view of the Mediterranean, walking the Napolitain shore, entranced by the fishermen—their dark suntanned skin cracked like worn canvas or bark or the seasoned hulls of their wooden boats—bare hands are forever leather gloves—folding, mending ancient nets—their boats insignificant against the expansive sea, mismatched to the heavy loads they drag out of the waves. Seaside café—I will eat fresh succulent pullipo, octopus in oil, lemon, and herbs.

Hands in the warm sea, Mediterranean sand under my fingernails, lose my breath, heart beats startled, unknown ghost or saint drifts up behind me—I have been homesick all of my life—this is where I want to die.

cedar roots
in limestone bluffs
ten thousand winds

by Albert DeGenova
Oak Park, Illinois


Kathleen said...

Enjoyed this, Al.

Tish said...

This memoir offers rich detail. Once I started to read your piece, I could not stop.

Ralph Murre said...

Excellent work, Mr. D . . . good prose element and I especially like the haiku.

Adelaide said...

My father was born in Naples, but I have not been there.We intended to go, but a wrecked car put and end to that plan. Your description gives me a feeling of having been there and of knowning what my father knew as a boy.