Northern Italy | January | 2011
0930hrs train departure from Milan -> Florence
Branches like capillaries whipping past floating, rooted in a mist shrouded landscape. Italy in the winter. Starlings aflight, broken farmhouses, wood fire smoke. Every so often a black out. Tunnels like the blinking of an eye.
Then suddenly, pale sun on my face and a string of silhouettes, cypress it looks like, dotting the monochrome sweep.
All this to a synchrony of sound.
everything that I’ve done
everything that I’ve tried
has led me on this long road
until we all collide
Earbuds wedged in so the movement of the signora seated opposite me, with her coiffed hair and folders full of ledgers are nothing but a mime. I leave her to the negotiation of her numbers and return to naming the solitary trees – the ones that explode voluptuously outwards in seeming defiance of the neat rows their cypress brothers make in their long, skinny reach for the sky.
Fever Ray is next. (If I had a heart)
this will never end
’cause I want more
more, give me more
give me more
I open my book and read,
“He has a repertoire of answers. Sometimes he pictures her drifting down towards the mundane rooftops in a giant balloon made of turquoise and emerald-green silks, or arriving on the back of a golden bird like the ones on Chinese teacups. On other days, darker ones like this Thursday – Thursday, he knows, was a sinister day in her calendar – she winds her way through a long underground tunnel encrusted with blood-red jewels and with arcane inscriptions that glitter in the light of torches. For years she walks, her garments – garments, not clothes – trailing, her eyes fixed and hypnotic, for she is one of those cursed with an unending life.” (Margaret Atwood, Wilderness Tips)
Punctuated by a city. Bologna. Rust-red brick in a glistening coat of graffiti tags. No messages, just signatures – elaborate, authority defying stamps of “I Was Here”. Parking lots and old women in furs preceded by the ubiquitous shopping cart – a simple reminder that we’re all heading to the same place… death by super market/mercato/marché.
A few minutes later and we are out of the anxiety of the city – that concrete train of inevitability with no stops and no emergency lever.
I scroll artists on my iPod, searching for the right soundtrack for this mood, this cold streak south.
Editors, Doves, The Cure, Band of Horses…
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a hipster….
I settle for Auf der Maur. (Lightning is my girl)
Gonna let the lightning
Tuck me into my bed
Gonna let that man
Let him into my head
I’ll see you in my dreams
Electrified and cherry red
We don’t scream and growl half as much as we should as adults. We got it beaten out of us young. “Shhh… don’t cause a scene. People are staring…” they said, a plea for civility.
My mother taps my knee with her foot and touches her watch.