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Amber Paulen

The Firsts

I have much more trouble with the ends. There is something about finishing that scares the living out of me. As I write an end I must bite my lip; as I write a beginning I charge through blindly, there is always so much more to go. I again typed a “1”, which on the typewriter is the lowercase “L,” into the high right corner of my forth try. There is nothing daunting about it, I have much more to go.

The Body’s Long Madness in four stuttering starts:

Part 1. Enter, Rome. . . (Or Substratum)

Layer 1.

(1.) Valerie walks lightly. She is taking her time; as if she has been granted all time. One step begun only when the other has come to rest. Valerie walks forward, always forward.

(2.) She steps lightly. One foot lifted only when the other has come to rest. She moves forward over cobbled sidewalks, barely perceiving the bodies and faces constantly filtering by. Her vision is lifted.

(3.) Roman rooftops are studded terra cotta masterpieces. The integration of decay with elaborate ornamentation, with balconies weighed by weeping vegetation, with terraces hung heavy with flowers, magenta pearls pulling Valerie’s eyes up, further up. Or is it the eaves? Etched out of stone, delicate handy-works of pure embellishment; or the latticed ironworks that curl above doorways, winding their thorny rosebushes above windows; or the degeneration intrinsic to the passing of the ages, large chunks gone missing like a tooth out of socket, large chunks displayed erratically, above eye-sight or below.

(4.) Stepping slightly, Valerie takes her time. One foot advances not before the other has had a full rest. Though she is well-bundled, the shadows that have taken up permanent residence between tall buildings cause shivers despite the layers. On her feet are shoes that have already crossed continents. On her shoulder is a fraying bag, inside is her journal, her sole company.

On such days, in such cities freshly entered, Valerie has the sensation that her body is no longer under her; it is as if the ground has given way and there is air on all sides. Valerie is walking lightly on Roman rooftops.

Certainly one of those would make you want to read more!? If any of them would, maybe you would like to help me out as I write along. Or check-out Generous Alphabet an on-going project, check-it often. Thanks!

Bracciano Italia
June – April 2008


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