Monday, November 27, 2006

In Squaw Valley Park With Alex and Ben

Assignment: Write about a small joy

For sheer bliss
It gets no better than this:
Two grandsons,
Two swings.
Alex, ten,
Pumps his own.
I push five-year-old Ben.

The swings go up,
Go down,
And up and down again
While the boys,
Beatles fans, both,
Raise voices to the sky
As into the air they fly.

She's got a ticket to ride …
sings Alex
She's got a ticket to ri-i-ide ...
echoes Ben
And in tandem
To song's end,
They sing as they swing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

A Cursed Incident Abroad

It happened one dark night in Milan.  We were in a gelateria, my daughter and I, and had barely had a lick-a-piece on our cones when a beggar came up to me and, in a manner most rude, demanded: 

“Signora, comprami un gelato!” 

I ignored him.

“Signora,” he said again, “comprami un gelato!”

Again I ignored him.

“What’s he saying?”  my daughter asked. 

“He wants me to buy him an ice cream.”

“And are you going to?”

“No,” I said.

Then, right in my face, he made a chant of it:  “Comprami un gelato!  Un gelato!  Un gelato!  Comprami un gelato!”

With the back of my hand, I waved the air at him, shooing him, and said, 

“Via!  Lasciami stare!” (Go!  Leave me alone!)

A vague anxiety gripped me as I saw him make a ‘vee’ with the middle and index fingers of his right hand, and spit through it.  Then, with lip curled, he said, “Alora che tu tenga i tuoi maledetti soldi e che presto tu sia la piĆ¹ ricca signora nel cimitero!” (May you keep your damned money, then, and may you soon be the richest woman in the cemetery!)

“What did he say to you?” my daughter asked.

“Oh, nothing much,” I said.  No need to upset her.  Bad enough that he had me quaking, imagining I saw him already stomping in triumph on my grave.

I only hoped that by ‘soon’ he had meant not really too terribly soon – perhaps some very indefinite time in the future – which is about as much notice as any of us poor mortals can hope for anyway.  

In the meantime, I try not to dwell on it.