Richibi’s Weblog

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Month: February, 2008

a souvenir of Vienna

these earlier “back tracks”, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while

please enjoy                                                                                                           

                       __________________                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                    April 9, 2004

this is for Alice, who has only recently lost her only son, and for also her husband, who must be also equally profoundly aggrieved, it is about maintaining faith

                                                                                                                                          a souvenir of Vienna: 

a friend came over yesterday for the first time, I had my usual concerns about my apartment, it’s modest, I call it my thimble, but I also call it my aerie cause of its unobstructed view of the mountains, and the sea from the bedroom on the other side

I soon enough began to display its features, the walls painted each a different colour, a gift from an artful partner, who also appended a fleur-de-lys of a contrasting shade in each their upper right hand corner as a tribute to my heritage, upon the walls many of the photographs are mine from when I used to enjoy photography and they hold up remarkably well after some over twenty years, of London, Athens, Copenhagen, places I’ve been

I tried to sit her down with a porfolio of other pictures there but the conversation was lively and she followed me to where I fidgeted and fussed, and  as I flew to one spot or another, the kitchen to get a glass, the washroom for a tissue, I pointed out some article and its associations

“That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall”, I quoted from Robert Browning and told the story of my own wall-hanging, a menu that many years ago I’d brought back from Vienna when I used to fly there with my work, I’d of course told the story of the restaurant where I’d found it to my mother, my father, family, friends, who’d admired it when I put it up

because the restaurant goes back to the fifteenth century it’s entertained Viennese celebrities going back through history, Mozart, Beethoven, probably Freud, the like, and had at the time of my earliest visits a scroll you’d unfurl to read their offerings, which were printed in High German and in a medieval-like script with a lot of ornamentation and curlicues, and seemed ideal for framing, black print with some red illumination on artfully tarnished parchment

when my parents returned from a visit there the following year my mom brought back one for herself but hadn’t for my sister who’d also wanted one, she was upset and I, because I love her and could carry the experience in my heart, gave her my own

many years later I would return to Vienna to take lessons in German this time to follow up on some that I’d taken earlier in Germany proper, Berlin for a couple of months and also a little hamlet south of Munich called Murnau nestling at the foot of the Alps 

in Vienna I would not only study at the prestigious university there but stroll the elegant streets, visit the opulent museums, revel in the art and magnificence that still hold court there like an ever benevolent grand duchess who  despite the times cannot forego the manners of an earlier age for a more modern and more democratic way of seeing things, and remains dutifully dusty and magnificent

my mom had proposed to meet me at the end of my stay, we’d amble the elegant streets, revisit the opulent avenues of the stately city this time together, and we’d devised to of course forage out our fabled restaurant

but when nearly thirty years later we couldn’t remember of course its name she went directly to the menu that still hangs on her wall, made out among the items on its fare a few that were prepared according to apparently the house in that “à la” was always followed by the same set of letters, which she then spelled out over the phone, the “G” had become a “B” to her, the “s” an “f”, unfamiliarity with a not only foreign but also ancient script and text, but enough for me to decipher “Griechenbeisl”, which in German stands for Greek inn

and there it was in the phone book with a telephone number and location

                                                                                                                                                                         I didn’t go there till my mother showed up, but when she did we were there several times cause it was not only reminiscent but delicious, the food was hearty fare, savoury and succulent with an atmosphere to match, the service matchless
 
we had the good fortune, I believe an angel was sent, to have wait at our table always the same young man

                                                                                                                                                                         my father died several years ago, that same year also my beloved, and to deal with the grief we each my mother and I after having leant an ear to heaven had our own channels of communication, “adagios always remind me of John” I’d read at his memorial from a text I’d composed for him, the slow, deliberate pace of this sonata extract advanced always in his step, and lo and behold I’d found that afterwards he would descend in spirit when fortuitously one was on, like a key I’d found, invented, to a transcendental visitation, my mother had found an esoteric tune by an obscure composer, something not quite baroque with birds twittering for maximum kitschness but which spoke to her in spades, she would rush to her player to crank the volume up whenever the music came on, still does, and was, is, then, imbued with the spirit of my father

I sit  in silence then rapt in the mystical moment until the moment and the miracle has come and gone, evaporated

                                                                                                                                                                     but meanwhile back in Vienna where we were contemplating this other gift from heaven, the golden waiter who stood before us to take our orders, he had the height from our sitting positions and therefore the authority, and of course he was at home in this environment

his German was fluent, more fluent than mine, but he was discreet about my inaccuracies and hesitations, for my mom he spoke a perfect English brushed slightly and beguilingly with the exoticism of an accent, a deep, resonant voice inspired confidence, even mystery and enchantment, as did his imagined but resplendent wings

“I’d eat him all up”, I said to my mom

“so would I”, she retorted

                                                                                                                                                                      we sat then enjoying our Austrian fare, good wine, in our historic surroundings, imbibing the centuries and traditions that graced the walls, the tables, the chairs, the very air of the place, we would’ve been savouring venison or quail in a deep, rich probably wine sauce, something particular to the region, and trying to anchor a memory to the experience

but suddenly my mom pointed up for me to heed the music, there had been a few musicians who’d presented a jovial set, full of sometimes lively, sometimes plangent good cheer, to get us all in the mood and they’d done so, conversation bristled through the several rooms in the house, and the cutlery and dishware clattered, but now there only sounded from the system above, sweet and simple but unmistakable to us, the voice of my father, the little esoteric tune which in the fifteen years since he’d died I’ve only heard at my mother’s, speaking to us

I love you, Dad, I said
 
I love you, Dad, said my mother, as we both looked up to where he was

and then he sat beside us making us three one

we had never been there together of course, but we’d all individually at least been there, and now we were together reunited, and we all knew we were reunited and always would be, it gave us all great strength

                                                                                                                                                                          later the waiter would ask us about our stay, when we were planning on leaving

“tomorrow”, we replied

“because I leave as well tomorrow”,  he informed, to return to Poland where he would continue studying law towards his career, and I knew that here again God had spoken, had sent this messenger just for us

and that finally God, or love, in all Its infinite variety of manifestations, is everywhere

                                                                                                                                                                       later I talked to my mother about the menu that still hanged at my sister’s, surely nearly thirty years since I’d first handed it over, and how it would be nice to have it in my own home, now that it would speak so eloquently to me of my adventure but also of my beliefs, the voice of my father, God, she might merely bring it up to my sister that I might want one, but they’d been no longer available, without indeed outright asking for it, I knew my sister would hear even so indirect a request with the ear she also cocks towards heaven, for she listens also with her heart, but I didn’t want to press her if perhaps she did not, might not want to let go of an item she had once ardently coveted

but she knew as well that my father had spoken and she had it with her the next time she came around

                                                                                                                                                                    and there it hangs upon the wall
 
                                                                                                                                                                          I could choose to call this my imagination, to consider these juxtapositions merely coincidence, perhaps they are, then perhaps again they are not, but I’ve found that to believe in merely coincidences, the mere association of fortuitously conjoined incidents, leaves me dry, arid, empty, on the verge too often of existential despair whereas believing in the voice of my father has brought me miracles and poetry, which is to say faith, grace and boundless love

and all there is to do is listen

 

    ________________________________

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from my diary

these earlier “back tracks”, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while 

please enjoy                                                                                  

                         __________________ 

                                                                                                                                    December 19, 2002 

                                                                                                                                        in a few hours I’ll be headed out towards my mom’s
but already earlier than even the birds I’m up, have
dipped into my daily dose of poetry, an inspirational
text I’ve been reading for years in the morning I think
of as my prayer

this morning I perceived it as a constant, independent
of time and place, an act that rhythmically returns like
a heartbeat, a refrain, and defines me, gives me a character
outside the variegations of every day I can hold onto like
an anchor

and the text itself of course slips into my consciousness
and being and gives me guidance and shape
                                                                                                                                                                           

in return for my gift of laser eye surgery Greg got
me the complete works of Plato, which I intend to read
with him, and a plaster angel, a cherub, which he either
bought or found, and painted

the feathers are brushed with gold, the wings glisten,
golden silken locks seem to also carry light, the lips
a Cupid’s bow of cherry red are nevertheless innocent,
rouged cheeks flesh out the figure with freshness and
health

crouched on my bedside table it sits, its head rests
sideways on folded arms, piously, keeping an eye on me

  

   ________________________________

blogging, first steps

January 31, 2008                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

with little more than the word “blog” at my elbow I headed out this week to my first blogging class, the night was mostly clear, the sky was black already at seven thirty in the evening, I imagined spring and comfortable jaunts under the late afternoon sky instead of this artificial and edgy glitter of neon street lights along, for me, a more guarded way, night time is for less restricted activities, the fray of people who are younger now than I am

a couple of unlikely snowflakes suddenly crystallized, dully twinkled and duly danced before me to my surprise, I hadn’t counted on winter

I went into the class, tucked away in some corner I had to ask about, full of computers, of course

I sat at one

slowly not quite a dozen maybe others followed, found places, including the teacher

I hope this is going to be fairly elementary, I said to spark the air, classroom energy, with a question, I thought, from everybody

absolutely, she said, or something no less peremptory, no less categorical

we were all, I think, well satisfied, I certainly was

we all stated our reasons for being there, one of the few last I declared that I was, I am, a writer, in my, at least, heart, I write like others organize flowers, setting my metaphors to otherwise barren phrases, alliteration, onomatopeias for lilt and delight, synonyms sometimes maybe for variety, in a bouquet, I imagine, of words, I like to offer them as letters, communications, to friends and people, I thought I’d try to enlarge on that, confined as I am to my address list right now, my “captive” address list, an uncle of mine once said, a curmudgeon, who called the patients I hoped I was serenading with my still novice flute at the palliative care unit where I volunteered then my “captive audience”

he had a point, though an ornery one

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  it’s like stepping into traffic for me right now, I expressed about blogging when I was asked, the rube in the big city, I need some help to get around, what’s a blog, it was more or less what I thought it was, a web log, she said, a web diary, now I had a road map, next we started one, each one of us individually at each our computer, I got stage fright immediately, couldn’t find a thing to say, couldn’t find a word to write until just now, three days later

this is my introduction

welcome to my space    

                                                                                                                                                                                                               outside, the two snowflakes, that dully twinkled, duly danced, remember, had become a wonderland, snow like down fell, my path crunched and glistened, I thought of poetry, of course, enchantment, my literary aspirations, noted my leaving clear and crackling impressions in at least the snow, like metaphors, I thought to myself, crisp, stark metaphors, all the way home     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        richibi