Thursday, December 6, 2007

Via Palou

//via paluou


You asked about the man in the dory
in this painting I did that summer. Well,
one hot July day I carried my sketch
book down a lane that I think was called Via
Palou, which led to a river close to
where I was staying. Not far from the water
was a dazzling white, three-story house, with
a Spanish tiled roof, and closed white shutters
blocking out the burning sun. Clumps of flowers
grew alongside fragrant yellow fennel,
on the bank between the stucco house and
the copper-green mix of fresh and salt water.

I chose a soft pencil from my pencil
box, sat in the shade in semi-lotus
mode, against the trunk of a sturdy stone
pine to sketch the ancient, quaint and quiet
place. A gull shrilled, a shutter was opened
and a woman, her shining midnight hair
streaming around her in a deep and
shadowy window, like obsidian
gleaming, polished, turned a Wedgwood blue
pot of deep rose ivy geraniums
around to face the air. They spilled over
onto the wide window sill and down the
white stucco wall. The colors were an
exclamation point on the chalky white.
I felt awkward sketching her house while she
was arranging flowers there and turned away.

The wind came dancing up the river,
ruffling the water, blowing on the ivy
geranium blossoms, sighing through the
stone pine. I sketched the water now. It lapped
the bank with gentle slaps as the tide came
in. I saw a pine-green dory, its oars
dipping cleanly as it approached me from
the sea. Shipping the dripping oars, a thin,
blue-jeaned man with a preoccupied air
and dark hair jumped out of the boat and dragged
it up on the bank, then pushed open the
solid looking door of the white stucco
house. I heard the gurgle of moving water
and caught a glimpse of a lion fountain
in a pink-jasmine flowered courtyard. Then a
deep voice called out, "H'lo," to the bell sound
of a woman laughing, as she replied,
"I'm up here." The door closed and all was quiet
except for lapping water, the sighing
pine, and shrilling gull. I sighed then too.

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