In the body there’s dark

Ella Jane Chappell

Stories by the “Creative Curious Travellers 2016” about the city of Prato. Thanks to: Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci | Camera di Commercio di Prato | USE-IT Prato | LeCù | Fonderia Cultart | Biscottificio Antonio Mattei | Cibino Take Away | Gelateria Fior di Sole | Apothéke Cocktail Bar | Dolci Amari | Caffè Vergnano | Camaloon | The GIRA.


In the body there's dark by Ella Jane Chappell 1-2-3-4


In the body there’s dark

featuring Italian idioms translated literally into English

At altitude the sky is system reboot blue.
Kate is telling me that colour doesn’t exist
and cloud wisps are at their endless work, parsing
the pitch and snow of the Apennines below. Colour,
instead, could be understood as a coping mechanism.
I’ve drawn an arrow in my notebook
down to the words scribbled Iridescence? Photonic crystal?
Next to me, Nick leans over toward the little cabin window
in anticipation of anything. Tell me
the last time you tasted
the taste of living in your body.
It’s like vodka – the flavour of nothing so
overwhelming it stings and heats
and drives the tint of void through your heart –
Iridescence? Photonic crystal?
In the body there’s dark.
Twenty-four hours later, we’re eating bread weighted
with sweet oil and courgette, sun-heavy tomatoes
salami sawed hastily with a pocket knife.
In the valley there’s light.
Mist teeming with light on the horizon
or the horizon misting with me, light, teeming for release.
An example of an unknown known is the way orange light
pumping through air makes it cleaner, more Jurassic.
I’ve never felt so heavy
incapable of touching anything.
Smile, now that you have the teeth.
In the evening, we share local wine
pappa al pomodoro, pastida
one pin-cushioned with local ham
the other Genovese, pressed and lush with pesto
for me: lasagne layered and rich as the pataphysics of our familiarity.
There are logics that leak between our words
despite axioms and grammar learned from years of friendship
little smiles and animal sounds in place of statement
and opinion. My friends my love for you
rolls off my tongue in the order of:
verb, adjective, proposition, self-evident,
gin, vodka, campari, self-evident,
Katie, Nick, Mike, self-evident,
soft, liquor-soaked pastry, custard, cream
self-evident
to name is to love.
Quiet, quiet, in the middle of the square.
Growing up, coming up, is a process of turning
inside out – the appendages first and then
the villi frilling, a tropism of the deeper parts
shrinking and wilting in the light, a process
more commonly called humiliation.
You would have thought you could build a truth
on the laps and tops
subjected to increasingly aggressive processes
stretched and formed into shape
fibres rolled and bound together – I am
the result of the repeated impression of myself.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The upside-down me in my spoon
ends in me.
The sparkle from the sun onto the river
ends in me.
The word for authentic here is typical
which isn’t quite right. There is a small gap
between tongues that we bounce across
teeth-chattering on a slipshod route up
to a vineyard. Here we are never around at the right time
which only serves to make arrival sweeter when we do
happen upon an osteria in little Carmignano
the place to pick up red wine and pastries
learn the word for “to open”.
I choose well with a flaky, buttery twist
filled with marmalade and glittered with sugar.
We swig directly out of the bottle parked up at a bus stop
olive groves peppered with a wake of cypress.
If colour is a coping-mechanism of the brain
marmalade and sugar crystals
are cataracts, a milky blurring of my vision
as our tuk tuk shakes tears from my eyes
by which I mean shakes sadness and beauty from my eyes
by which I mean shakes my wine-hue cheeks
as I explain to you:
for a flower to bloom it must reveal its emptiness.
This experience is authentic, but not typical.
My first true period in six and a half years comes
as we sit down to spritz and spaghetti al pomodoro the next day.
I bunk my head down into my place and stretch
my back, a fine silver necklace slinking into place
in the same square where the ascended virgin’s girdle is paraded
three times a year, I am blessed
by the apple pip of my mother
that was the apple pip of my grandmother.
Pain in a tiny cathedral that thrums with chords.
In the body there’s dark.
The aperol and the tomatoes are bitter orange
and sweet orange in a spectrum that encompasses
sunshine, winter persimmons on a bare branch
fish glimpsed under happy water
the rich yolk of a free egg
marigolds and true, true blood.


In the body there's dark by Ella Jane Chappell 4-3-2-1

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Ella Jane Chappell