The Italian Kitchen
Paulette was the most elegant person I had ever known,
a ballet dancer, half-Swiss, half-Italian, with a British home.
We walked into a cafe in Glasgow’s trendiest zone,
the only friend I had made then during my studentship abroad.
It was an Italian restaurant with wooden seats and long queues,
and after standing for half an hour we found a table next to the wall,
not far from another where he instantly spotted me with the serenest of looks.
I always wondered what my presence in his arena provoked.
His face was inscrutable and no muscles could be construed.
I always said the wrong things and made the wrong moves,
and I forgave him for whatever thoughts he brewed
over my aloofness, my indifference, and ill-disguised fondness.
I failed to greet him and I knew he would not pardon me for being rude.
How could I tell him that I always kept away from the people I valued most,
for whoever I touched, I was bound to lose !
I associate the word with all that is odious and morbid,
with the oppression of nations,
the starvation of millions,
with the Massacre of Glencoe,
the Genocide of Armenians,
with scepters that turn into pythons
to devour an entire millennium,
with sectarianism and schisms
within familial unions,
with blood-sheds at altars
and contagious vermillion,
with manipulative spouses
and exploitative chameleons,
with labyrinthine circumlocution
and orchestrated rebellions.
Let me sing my ode for ingratitude.
My palm is a cemetery of deep-dug holes,
drilled by your claws
in the wake of every gift and handshake I proposed.
My smiles enthuse a trickle of gall
that ruffles the stillness of your stagnant soul
that cannot be consoled
by words or glows,
devouring every ray that beams from my mouth,
like an astral Black Hole.
I tread upon your discourse of thorns
to partake of the pricks of a saga of wrongs,
but you disdain my every groan
that empathizes with your excruciating woes,
spurning my solace with habitual scorn.
[A Reading of Richard Le Gallienne‘s essay ‘The Spirit of the Open’]
Richard opted for a woodland, green office
in the blue-eyed wilderness
to conduct literary transactions,
with expected diversions from celestial bodies such as
the moon and morning stars,
and the squirrel that haunts his wood-pile,
with his thoughts often ferried by the river nearby
to the sea, far-off.
He had been simply summoned by the god Pan
whose death was mistakenly proclaimed
by Plutarch as Christianity reigned,
but Pan’s life is inextricably linked with that of the earth.
There will always be little chapels to Pan
on whose lintels Virgil’s words are inscribed:
Blest too is he who knows the rural gods,
Pan, old Silvanus, and the sister-nymphs!
There is only one creed that makes us both happy and good.
It is that of the flourishing grass and the dogwood,
of the cerulean sky and the brisk brook,
of the blue heron and the redwing.
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.
You can find more of Susie’s work here on Ink Pantry.