skylineopt
Rome’s rooftops at dawn (credits)

Rome, April 2004, 6 am. A cold but bright morning. I am sitting in my terrace, looking at the Roman rooftops. It’s almost dawn and I’m cold. I had two sisters and 8 female first cousins,you know, and I met him at 3. He therefore became my eldest brother.

My Eldest Brother

I’ve heard him on the phone last night, after many years of silence. So now on the first shred of paper I’ve found I’m quickly jotting down, here on my terrace, the words I got in my head before I forget them.

Words thrown spontaneously – and a bit wild too, perhaps.

1950s-1960s remote, antediluvian stuff?

God knows. We lived in immediate post-war Italy, a different world altogether. Judge for yourself.

Gianvi13 anni
My ‘brother’ at 13. We had the same colours, green eyes and blonde hair, but he was blonder. They took us for real brothers

To My Eldest Brother

My friend, companion of happy adventures
during the prime of life,
at 6 am in a Roman morning,
a cold breeze running over the rooftops
of a pagan city,
you, companion and brother,
I come to celebrate
as in an ancient rite,
a pencil splashing words
on a page, rapidly,
words alive, unlaboured.

You taught me to enjoy this life,
its primordial side and strength;
I, more fearful,
brought up in a world of women,
the manly ways
by you was taught,

the male attributes, or nuts,
you always had,
and have: do not forget!

Oh fuck, male attributes,
may the Lord be thanked!
In a world
full of empty jaded phony people,
you were example, always,
friend and brother,
of strength and courage,
more than my father was.
You – and my mother’s brothers,
so dear and much beloved.

My father, though,
who meant a lot to me,
from him I took a few things.
But you were vast to me.
One more year is a lot
when one is a child,
A primacy, it establishes,
I’ve always recognized you.

Here, now, on this small terrace
facing the city of Rome,
in front of the ancient temples
of our primeval culture,
I you honour, brother,
I you celebrate, my friend,
that primacy still recognizing
that wasn’t only of age.

dioniso05

At this point red wine I’d drink
(but it’s early in the morning…)
the full-bodied red, Tuscan wine
of our wonderful winter evenings
(in our Arezzo countryside: do you recall?)
when, meat roasted over embers,

the Dionysian pleasures
of meat and wine you did deliver
and of the women
grabbed by the hair
and gently, strongly,
sweetly loved.

bacio1

The breeze is warmer.
and words begin to fail.

I only hope,
my friend & strong companion
& ‘eldest brother’,
to have conveyed you
memories & emotions
during abrupt awakening
after a telephone call.

[Geraldine, a Dubliner blogger, made the translation from the Italian original; I, now (20 oct 2018) totally remade it. This dear Celtic woman is btw not responsible for the four letter word – f@#k, I have decided to use, not her]

GianviEpadre
My friend at 22 with his dad Michele. They had a very strong bond. While Gianvi’s mum was Tuscan, his dad was from Salerno, which meant a lot to both of us

 

Joys (and sorrows) we had in our relationship, but all was lived with exuberance and almost violent intensity.

arezzo11
Arezzo and its country. There’s a third friend and we were like the 3 Musketeers. Shot years ago with my small Nokia E63

He had a beautiful house across from mine but when we first met over the wall at 3-4 years of age (I was alone, he with his grandma, a gentle lady as from an old-time painting, ) we did not like each other at all. He looked prissy and too well-groomed to my taste.

Then one day his mother took him to our house for an official visit (the two mums were close friends). Disturbed we were a bit so we began to throw pebbles at a can placed on a stone table at 10 yards from where we were, just to kill moodiness.

The throwing-pebbles-at-a-can thing triggered ALL. We have never left each other since then (apart from a few intervals.) Thing being, our brains knew how to fly together, and we laughed and laughed and we laughed out loud. His mind, odd and humorous, rich with ideas, well connected with mine.

In the picture below I am 18. From then on we had the first break. A long one.

giov_tessera_18_c
Man of Roma at 18 (1966.) Our friendship was about to go on a hiatus. Pauline O’Connor, my piano teacher, had just arrived. Magister will also, though in 1972

 

Now that we are old, we feel even closer and there won’t be intervals any more.

It’s this desire we have to stay close at the end of a marvellous adventure we did begin together, in the company also of the loved ones from his side and from my side – who make our life more humane (and who console us of its miseries.)

7 pensieri su “To My Eldest Brother

  1. Man of Roma | April 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    To Readers

    the women taken by the hair

    I remember Clark Gable in many films just grabbed women’s heads (in elevators, at the frontier, in Atlanta, anywhere) and kissed them with force they trying to escape from his powerful grip but then both the force and the sweetness subdued them.

    Ahhhh …those were the movies that nourished us I’ll be so silly to admit. We together saw for example ALL the great US westerns (The Magnificent Seven; Rio Bravo; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers etc.).

    It all sounded clear to us, the well distinct roles of men and women in their fight for survival where gender complementarity stood out clearly: the women, as educators of the rough men, cooking and taking care of house & kids (and using a gun too occasionally); while the men hunted, fought Indians, defended the damsels in distress & the family & the country – all THAT stuff, that simple but tough morality totally mesmerized us.

    Mi piace

    1. ana terán (April 2, 2011 at 10:56 pm) thus replied to me:

      “The throwing-pebbles-at-a-can thing triggered ALL.

      Beautiful image. Yep, always those minuscule details remain glued to our heart and brain. And also trigger evocation, the Once upon a time of our stories, our beloved and single and unique stories. Must say I love this tone of yours, this personal shade intertwined from time to time in your blog. I like story telling…

      Abrazos hombreromano.

      pd. Pick up the phone during a dream, it works…
      ppd. and if you asked the feminist within me I also love to be taken by the hair…”

      Piace a 1 persona

Rispondi

Inserisci i tuoi dati qui sotto o clicca su un'icona per effettuare l'accesso:

Logo WordPress.com

Stai commentando usando il tuo account WordPress.com. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Google+ photo

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Google+. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto Twitter

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Twitter. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Foto di Facebook

Stai commentando usando il tuo account Facebook. Chiudi sessione /  Modifica )

Connessione a %s...