The front has been perched above the city for days now. Hot, humid, hovering. Stalled. All the while I have been locked in the time machine, trapped in another place and era, Palermo in 1971. And while I go back there to retrieve an image or a memory, this time I am walking the streets in August, alone, invisible, camera in hand. What will I bring back this time?
Pictures, poetry, imprints from a time that seemingly was just yesterday. As time will have it, it was nearly half a century ago, mind boggling to grasp something like that. But the tunnel of life shreds time as the wind blows hot and steady across the Sicilian plains.
Shards from a poem found, on aged and discolored paper, written in 1971 on an Italian typewriter:
kid scream horn honk smell of fish pervades all.
walking down this crazy via somewhere in Palermo,
don't know why, everyone's asleep, the city's mine
at 4 PM.
I practiced being undetected with a camera before I realized I had been invisible my whole life. In a world of billions, why would one think otherwise? We all are the center of our own universe, but those universes rarely intersect with others. Along the Via Roma I could travel through time as though I were watching the film. In this case, with a load of Tri-X film and my rangefinder. God was I happy.
Imagine being 20, to not understand what anyone around you was saying, to be invisible and to have an afternoon to explore that world. Isn’t youth something of what that quintessentially is? But to not know is even more delicious.
Back onto Via Roma, where the life streamed out of the buildings from the afternoon siestas, looking for dinner, bargains, for a way to quench the thirst of life, if only for a moment or a memory.
Feeling strengthened by the bitter and the sweet, I ventured back out into the avenue. Wandering, slowly, looking for the first time at a world I oddly recognized. I was in a dream in a dream. And then I came upon another shop. It was filled with barrels on one side and a long bar on the other. As I walked by the barrels I saw the words Oro, Ambra, Fine, Superiore, Vecchio, Vergine, Mandorlato, Secco, Dolce and any number of variations. I‘d found the ancient Marsala bodega and wine bar my uncle was telling me about - the beginning of my world, of wine, and the path upon which for the next 40 years I would tread.
Finally, the rain falls.
...to be continued