…scenes from your window

Monastero dei Benedettini di San Nicolò l’Arena, Catania, Sicily

12.
— The roof of the neighbouring house, moss growing in a green smudge down the slates. Above, a white dove flies across a pale sky.

— A vast open sky, the Nevada desert ahead of us, a ribbon of heat-hazed tarmac taking us to Death Valley as The Velvet Underground plays discordantly through the speakers.

— Your then lover on stage playing the saw, his bow sliding gently through serrated teeth. Some in the audience glance to each other, their eyes asking, Is this real? But this is no aural illusion, the ethereal vibration filling the space as bubbles rise from nowhere to drift above our heads. The magic of this moment is lost on the saw player, he is too deep in the music, the bubbled tent suspended in a moment of held breath.

— A bell tent on top of a cliff with the ocean beyond the grassy field. Each day you clamber over rocks to reach the beach and the unpredictable sea, the tide rushing in one morning to gulp up your bag. A naked man runs through the surf to retrieve it but he can’t save your dress, so you climb back to your tent in your bikini. Later, you imagine a dolphin shimmying through the waves in the dress.

— Identical dresses covered with frills and garish yellow spots, you and your friend crammed into the changing room to laugh at your reflections. You are both university lecturers, but in that moment you are 1980s disco queens.

— The Queen on mugs, plates, tea towels, china thimbles. Your grandmother is a royalist and wears a royal blue shift dress for special occasions. She has black hair until the day she dies, and black hair sprouting from her pale chin.

— Your daughter’s hair shimmering in the sun. At ten years old she has natural honey highlights that you plait into narrow strands so she can see her beach excavations. She comes to you holding up her fingertips where a transparent crab sits patiently as you capture the image in your camera. The framed photograph is a mere lean away as you write this now.

— Many photographs from your recent travels. Last summer in Sicily, the lush Catania courtyard at the heart of the Monastero di San Nicolò l’Arena, your feet aching from a day walking the fevered streets, this gloriously baroque building now home to throngs of university students. You didn’t know then it would be a long time before you’d be surrounded by such enquiring young minds again. You are still waiting.

— Your enquiring mind a never-ending slide show, a multitude of classrooms, previous houses and gardens, holidays and celebrations, open books, journal pages, roads, fields, forests, landscapes, towns and cities, airports, train stations, bus terminals, hotels, Airbnbs, dinners with friends, coffees, cakes, family meals. And now, conversations within the window frame of your mobile phone.

— Your mobile phone a list of the people you love. People you miss and want to hold. They all have their own window of memory and imagination to quicken the day, and you feel glad for this.

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