Summer by the Ligurian Sea

“A minor seventh concordant sounds
with this planched hillside and my dry mouth.
Acrid greenness that smells like a copper coin
tipped to the tongue.
Secco, secchio. Mare, ammaro.”
-bonnie mcclellan

The big things, the wide things, are general. The Mediterranean coast line full of lavender, and other sun baked shrubs that exude the smell of curry and thyme. The eye and the mouth taste something astringent and ochre in this intense green baked soft. It leaves a metallic twinge on the tip of my tongue, on the basin of my retina, nickel cadmium, a licked penny.

The water diffuses everything, the small stones that line the undersea shelf shush-hush-shushing the smack-happy surface which is busy redrawing the coastline; excavating more stones to council silence. Onshore, some of these stones have gone utterly verdigris, church-dome green arching up from the general chaos of grey-scale slashed with white.

What is specific and at the same time wildly general to the vacation house terraces, repeated with small variations along the Mediterranean coast: the banality of bougainvillea and lime, the white table, the beach umbrella, the backpacks crammed with towels, folding chairs, concrete, tile, the ground scattered with ants, crumbs and a child’s plastic toys, the taut umbrella over the table and the shadow of the butterfly that crosses above it.

What is exactly here? FRAMURA, frazione ANZO the lower section but above COSTA and the train station. Folding chairs, the old kind that are made of wood and metal with a little rust, at one point they were white but have been repainted with a colour the paint store has labeled ‘azure’. The umbrella over the table is a deep cherry red. It has six wooden ribs. The branch of a lime tree with one lime has tucked up underneath the umbrella’s far edge. All the parts of the lime leaves facing up towards the inside of the umbrella are catching the reflected red, turning these sides into a chromatic shift of red-russet-brown-black. The contrast between the green of the underside of the leaf and it’s reddark surface makes each transitional edge as hard and clean as a struck blank.

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.


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