The lightness of being (on a Genova beach)


Pen, be my heart: for these two wave-thundering fingers of golden-blue before that sun hits these rocks–in Genova, friend and lover, a city where nothing is not wild. Genova, where all ties and times and turns itself to the sea, and thus to the moon, that pulling, reflecting body…

I am here on the spiaggia libera once again, resting on a bay of blessed pietrine, lines of white running over fields of ardesia-gray, and I am thinking about light: how in my language “light” means more than one thing, has a weight to it that doesn’t carry through in Italian. Here light means luminescence, and nothing else, not how heavy or not heavy a person is, a tendency that across a woman’s life often matters more than it should. Where I’m from light means absence, core, revelation…

I didn’t want to photograph anything today for the same reasons I fear writing it down: in documenting, I am afraid I won’t be able to see.

Now the wind is working with the sun, telling me for (un)certain when it’s time to go home, this other home, where I have left the baby with nonna (I am still not good at doing this), and under and around all of this, still writing, I think, I would have photographed the following:

monk parakeets–flocks of green cawing madly at the idea of avian non-nativity; flowering brush, dormant, with pods that fray like milkweed; white-haired Genovese in mustard pants with wool caps or full-fur jackets; green-painted iron railings on houses, palazzi, painted only in colors that reflect, and do not attempt to change or capture, the light of the setting sun.


Here there is so much love for what is, what has almost always been, for all that soul in every timeless thing.

I am led (as I was told I would be) to a particular rock, a jagged heart I will pack in tissue, smuggle home past customs and send to a friend’s mother who has recently known loss. I will keep some of these rocks for myself as well.

It is hard to live even briefly on rhythms not your own, and yet, to sublimate one’s “own-ness,” even briefly, has its benefits. Metamorphosis, deposition, erosion. In and out, the pull of the sea, carving and carrying us home and away, away from home toward home.


2 thoughts on “The lightness of being (on a Genova beach)

  1. Neysa

    I’ve never been, but this sounds lovely, both literally and figuratively. I love the sucking sound of the sea, pulling the listener, the observer, home.


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