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How I Want To Remember Naples
by Mary Jo Balistreri
For days I’ve carried your question around in my pocket.
Jangling. Bumping against my thigh. Perched on my shoulder.
Like magic, the question bounced from here to there, the answer
elusive. Then one morning before dawn, I was awakened
by a car honking on the beach, and in a flash of recognition,
I knew it was the link to my answer, the sound I never missed.
For five months on this sub-tropical island, I entered the day
by inviting it in, embraced it in the gray light of incipient dawn.
I defined myself in degrees, not unlike a foreign film with its slower pace,
nuanced shots. I shared a place of stillness where silence still had a voice.
I listened. The sea spoke sleepily, intensely, or like today, in picnic mode.
I responded. The air responded. The birds. Each day announced itself
in subtle aromatics, the heat sultry and seductive. The color, too, suggested
presence—carnation pink, pewter, magenta, apricot, coral. Each shade told a story.
The stories were always new. I could go on and on,
but this is how I want to remember life by the sea:
Sun-time, its slow passage through the arc of the sky
The voice of birds and water, of soughing pines, of palms
Life lived not in schedules and busyness, but through imagination,
where winds are companions and trees brush like feathers against
a sky empty with possibility.
With vast distances of sea and sky, the void we carry becomes
a connection we share. Mechanical things have no sway here. The word
future has no meaning, so filled is each day with presence. Sometimes,
when all the unspoken comes together, mystery is intimate and the unnameable
is more alive than anything I know.
Tides shift my inner landscape with their ebb and flow. This is the way
I want to live, how I want to remember, why I always return.