Aci Castello (Ashes to Ashes)

The ills which so troubled her heart
were the very same
that weighed upon her eyelids,
neither drooping from sleepiness nor narrowed with calculated schemes, but half-closed in a melancholy pose,
a state of acquiesced resignation:

Moorish eyes without a shimmer
of the sun or moon’s reflection,
chin tilted upward in defiance
or perhaps a better angle
to cast her gaze upon the horizon:

The waters always stirring in the Aegean depths,
but never moving forward, neither flowing backward,
simply agitated in a tranquil, mournful, restless state
as ghosts unknowing and uncounting
the earth’s innumerable rotations
she sits : immobile, unblinking, at the edge of the sea,
stirring only as the statues would
after a millenium or three
have turned their marble to rubble,
to pebbles,
to dust
stirred only by the breeze.


[Explanation of the words or ‘poetry’ or ‘prose’]

An impression haunted me from earlier this afternoon, and despite the Italian espresso and Sicilian wine and purple cauliflower, I had to pen this indescribable feeling.

I was sitting in Aci Castello, a northern suburb of Catania on the Eastern edge of the Italian island Sicily. I stared at the water, my eyes absorbing the shades of grey denoting the horizon, and I thought: How different is this water from the shores of Lake Superior that I know. The water was troubled, but not violently — it carried the rise and fall of many human stories, such as a great-grandparent who has lived to recount many tales of gain and loss, and gain and loss…

This place is an interesting one. The people, warm but distant. They stare as if I were on a television screen, not knowing that real life gives back some reconstruction of what it was given. They stare not with misapprehension, not with mistrust, not with unkindness. They stare at my human face — that of a young woman with foreign, pale skin adorned with precious gemstones — as if gazing through the shades of grey at the distant horizon. They stare, and their heart is distant from mine. A foreign tongue on foreign bread. I attempt some words in their modern language which I’ve picked up only days ago; Their countenance warms quickly as the sun warms everything it touches through the thin, fragile air of this nation. When I turn my back, I imagine their gaze to return to its former state, the same cold temperature it was before the clouds parted to reveal the warming sun.

It’s not a biting cold. It’s neither harsh nor bitter…. it’s forlorn, perhaps partially forgotten, a kind of force that is not aggressive nor self-destructive, it’s … this place, Sicily. It’s this place that has seen ashes formed into make-up formed into beauty formed into funeral adornments formed into ash once again. It’s human-centric. It’s tragic. It’s timeless. It’s Sicily.

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