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Amber Paulen

Mediterranean Airs

Summer stings scorched streets, Sevilla, where the sun never fails to shine; it pours over foreheads, shatters on the arid earth below. It is the animus African sun burning late and low; it hovers on the horizon line like the devil’s red ball, fills the ever lingering evening with brave streaks of every fire-ridden hue. The air of Seville’s spring can’t help but to differ in its ardor. How the orange blossoms linger with such sultry scented weight that one feels almost light by the way the nostrils tingle, a perfume brushed on by thick green verdure, brushed on an arm’s height above foreheads.

The Spanish, the Andalusians, the Romans stirred with Moors. Europe shudders on this Southern soil, the sensuous wrought out of barren ground. Let the Cruzcampo flow! Down the languid waters of the Guadalquivir! Cooly coursing down the gullet to the place where all good consumptions rest: to mingle with fish, the heads of fried fish, those mayonnaise-drenched potatoes, more fried fish, fried squid, fried shrimp or pink shrimp with their eyes bulging, jambón! never forget the jambón! fried fish, espinacas, beans and beans! Stepping onto Spanish ground, I never hesitate, “These Spanish, they know how to live!”

Wide sidewalks always give way to dreaming. I am walking the same way as I had some years ago, only this time, there is something different. Though the wide sidewalks are the same, the way is the same, the thick air, the same, the bitter oranges speckled orange in their boughs now loaded white with expectant blossoms, in their way, the same. It is something else that is different. The structures and constructs of what momentarily insists on being my reality, yes, this is different. It is said that a writer needs solitude, well, I’ve done my share. Dreaming, the excess of dreaming, when the dream swallows the dream, when the deep sea chasm gives way to more deep sea chasm; Seville, a strange place to have lived out my penance. Too bad all I ate then was sand.

If the way is the same; those wide sidewalks the same; the metallic glare of chairs and tables, the same; dark complexions with black hair and undecipherable tongues, the same; the low yellow washed with deep crimson and the sea of white and more white topped by those bird-beaked antennas, the same: therefore, I too, must be the same. . . And so it was only a state of mind, a little screw that had twisted out and had remained for some time, a little loose. . . And now that it is corrected I can go on and on and on until the end of my time.

It is funny, all this and these memories of silent times and my raging mind, for it was all a determinism, a hard-cultured will that believed and still believes that this is how books are made. That the suffering is as much a part of the writing as the writing, like the Spanish are to living. Am I sure? Books are written without the struggle which is deep and true reflection; but will the structure stand the erosion of time? But who really wants to stand the erosion of time? The main thing, as I’ve found the main thing to be, is the deepest and truest part of my self and soul coming into communion with the deepest and truest part of your self and soul. I know this is how books are read. I know this is how books are written.

I guess it is no coincidence all this coming up during the time of crucifixion: Semana Santa sent me to Spain. What elaborate golden floats! What flocks of curious on-lookers! What eerie and mystic costumes wear those marching Nazarenes! Hopping from one Catholic country to the next, how aware I am of the perpetuation of glory in selfless suffering. What a lousy breed! This human race and our archetypical constructs! Our circumambulation. What is it that holds us to our past mistakes? Our past mistakes. Is that how we get free of the clockwork? Where zenith and nadir are only common-type slang. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Bracciano, Italia
March 2008


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