Thursday, 8 September 2011

early september

returning home, and returning home in early autumn - impossible not to fall prey to the sweetness of melancholia, i don't even try not to, supposing that i were someone investing such struggle with meaning (which i am not, i don't know whether fortunately or less so).

back then, in the days of childhood, autumn used to mean diving into a world of distinct tastes and fragrances, a world of jubilation untouched by what i would later learn to call nostalgia: grape juice and fresh walnuts. grape juice from the small vine adorning the front wall of our house, facing the street, and fresh walnuts from the big tree, pivotal like an axis mundi in the middle of our garden. i was not aware then that we were blessed to be allowed to have this small piece of land around the house, even to have a house, when everywhere around us houses fell under the madness of the communist regime, eager to replace them with the grey blocks of flats, the ugliest buildings ever. i would also find out later that our house had finally been included on the black list, the erased area had spread around us like a death wave, at last reaching the point of swallowing us when the revolution came, only months before the fatal blow.

i don't know the name of these grapes in english, for whatever mysterious reason they are called 'ananas' in Romania (meaning 'pineapple', though everybody had yet to see a real pineapple back then). i was fascinated by their dark-bluish colour and by something like fog on their skin, the way breath stains a glass in winter or haze seems to remain attached on the hair of the beloved, on a frosty day. as everybody else privileged enough to have a garden, my father used to make wine in a big barrel which would be brought out of the cave weeks before the wine ritual and left in the yard, filled with water, to our delight (among other games, we could bathe in it, on really hot days). it is a custom still alive now, when good wine is widely available.

i bought these from the market the other day. coming home, i had found the grapevine gone, it had gone dry, my mother said, there are blooming oleanders now in its place, their beauty as sweet and poisonous as every memory is, i said, oh why are you upset, my mother asked, don't you like the new look of the garden and the new light green paint on the walls of the house, and for no reason at all i remembered these lines:

see the world ripple beyond this current.

(I look at you with eyes of oleander)

& in this ocean

a single harp plays a taunting homage.

but i didn't say anything.

upon my tongue of now, this taste of then, forever - a taste of fog and, beyond that, the fragrance of the unspeakable, the silent tune of a single harp.



  1. the lines belong to Kayte, when she wrote them she was a 15-year-old girl from Alaska, whose parents allowed her to leave school after she had tried to commit suicide. for a while, she spent her days on the beaches, writing incredibly good poems and taking photographs. i hear that after receiving treatment for bipolar disorder and returning to school, she stopped writing poetry.

  2. Incroyablement beau...
    La poésie est émotion, le traitement une camisole, la création disparaît quand l'esprit est enchaîné aux normes.

  3. Please do not hesitate to immerse yourself in such sweet melancholia as often as you wish, as often as needed, for it is clearly good for you, on many levels, cartharsis and creation being two, and it is wonderfully good for us, to partake in your raw and eloquent emotions as they flow across the floating bridge, from you, to us...

    And should you ever come to France one day in the Fall, you have an open invitation to come and partake of the grapes which grow on the vine across the back of our house... they are just starting to come ripe right now, many servings of good grape juice will soon be flowing...

    merci Roxana pour ce voyage dans ton âme...

  4. "Sing me back home, with a song my mother sang. Make my old memories come alive. Take me away, and turn back the years. Sing me back home before I die." - A song by Merle Haggard.

  5. hello my beautiful friend Roxana, this post is so deep and beautiful, as profound as the heart and mind.

    je t'embrasse, Im so sorry to hear that you lived adjacent to this tragedy of communism but I read and feel that you had a beautiful rich childhood nevertheless.

    This reminds me of how this summer I went to the home where I grew up and took some photos in the inner city slums until around the age of twelve although even for this city the inner city isn't all that bad.
    But I was adorned with four familly cultures and my childhood was rich as I lived with an extended familly of love and as you say the nucleus of the familly can lie protected and filled with love despite the external encroachment of ugliness and despair
    the lilac bushes that lined the streets of my childhood were no longer there but the old oak trees harboured so many childhood memories and I was overwhelmed with nostalgia.
    thanks for sharing about the sweet memories of the bath and wine making my grandfather was a wine maker also.
    to continue

  6. I loved this mournful song of a line-the orleandors as sweet and poisonous as every memory is
    yes memories express the luminescence of lost life, I knew I would have to express this in some form of light haha. because there always has to be some loss in life, of the passing of something or someone beautiful and cherished and ofcourse it necessarily has to be a loss if it was one time cherished,
    Im sorry the vine has dried up my friend but the vine of your spirit is luminous and I wish you many sweet grapes of life.
    just before I read your post I was planning on going off to the supermarket to have grapes! and have them outside under my favourite tree haha, I guess we never give up being children and that would be altogether too great of a loss, life would have to end.

    thankyou my friend for your bridge to the heart
    sending you soft kisses of nostalgia

    by the way I have a new signature...

  7. This was so hear your ordinary some ways even more extraordinary that your usual writing, Roxana.

    Strange that so many things should be so similar (ananas, sadness..etc.) and other things so different: it's still late August here, and still late summer.

    These look like blueberries. I'm tempted to ask: what do they taste like, but some things only taste like themselves.

    keep well,


  8. cât de frumooos! şi lent otrăvitor!

  9. i loved this image of the wine in the big barrel. it reminded me of

    Wave upon wave flows, countless, infinite
    Your lips ever poised to kiss,
    Your soul outstreaming its sweet note
    your loving heart outpoured, your throat
    Thirsty for wine's deep mysteries.

  10. so real! it's like seeing you without any make-up (it took me ages to think of a decent metaphor) or in the light of a clear, low flame, or directly, without the aid of mirrors...

    and the walnuts, drying our thoughts, leaving us wordless, only with our memories...the undivided world of childhood, time yet not flowing under the bridge...

    Zwischen den Ziffern der Abfahrtszeiten
    breiten sich die Besitztumer unserer Liebe aus.
    bleiben darin die Orte der Welt,
    nicht vermessen und unauffindbar.

    but little roxana as a child, in a frock perhaps! the thought of it is too funny :-)

  11. a beautifully autumnal evocation

  12. Cette coupe et ces grains de raisins sont d'une beauté intense ! Je reconnais là ton talent à sublimer les objets, les choses les plus simples ! Le noir et blanc est d'une force incroyable !
    Content de retrouver ton univers et sa magie poétique...

  13. Roxana:

    Me encantó tu foto. Te esperamos en nuestros blogs: Música de Sobrevivencia y Los Enanos de Honorio. Un grande abrazo,

  14. The flavour of a life distilled in a single bowl of autumn berries. I awoke in the wee hours this morning, thinking of this storied bowl, such is the hauntingness (can there be such a word?) of the memories that each berry releases for you, and the stories that they now hold for me. Even though I will never get to eat them, I sense their bitter sweet taste on my tongue.
    Life is just a bowl of berries, after all.

  15. I love the silvery almost monochrome of the image. And I know exactly what you mean by "sweetness of melancholia." I've felt it every autumn since I can remember autumn. How fascinating and sad about the teenager who lost her poetry after receiving what must have been life-saving medicine. It is also so interesting to have hints of life in a communist society. Politics can be so maddening and often treacherous. For better, for worse, life is always mysteriously unfolding as this post so eloquently reveals.

  16. K'line, merci de tout coeur... tout-a-fait d'accord :-)

    aaaah Owen, you know i will just have to take this invitation, if not now, at some later moment :-) thank you, this is so sweet of you!

    myth, these lines say everything.

    madeleine, thank you for sharing these memories with us, you are blessed to have had such a rich international home!!! the image of the lilac bushes on your street made me dream, i also had lilac in the garden there :-)
    and yes, my childhood was very happy, we didn't know anything about what happened around us...
    your warm words have brought joy to me, a big hug for you tonight... :-)

  17. b, thank you... yes, i wouldn't know to describe the taste, there are no words for it... you would have to taste for yourself one day :-) though even then you wouldn't have any idea how they taste(d) to me. there are bridges between hearts, but some things simply cannot cross them...

    ora 25, mulţumesc, ce bucurie :-)

    anon1 and anon2 (are you the same???) - thank you for the lovely poems, i really enjoyed them.
    ps. i usually don't wear any make-up, you will have to struggle to find another decent metapher :-P

  18. ffflaneur, thank you... (i will write back soon)

    Jeff, moi-aussi contente de te revoir ici et surtout sur ton blog, l'automne peut deployer ces couleurs maintenant, je sais que tu vas etre la pour les saisir :-)

    el gato de Alvaro de Campos, muchas gracias!!! para mostrar mi fotos en vuestros blogs tambien, que alegria ... voy a pasar por alla de nuevo, dentro de poco.

  19. Lynne, thank you so much for this wonderful comment, i am very touched... the thought of you thinking about this bowl of berries in the morning has filled me with such an intense emotion...

    and the song has made my day! :-)

    Stickup, yes, i totally agree, about everything - especially about the girl, i have thought a lot about her story, it would be such a loss if she never returned to poetry because i think she is extremely good, to write like this at such a tender age... but at the same time, if she recovered and is happy now... not an easy question, this...

  20. of the current three posts, all of which i very much like, this is still my favourite. maybe it's all the berry picking here...

  21. Sorry, don't get you Roxana. Why should I be concerned about how they taste _to you_?

    Gosh, I was only commenting about the taste of some fruit-how did this end up being about bridges and hearts?! Bizarre :-)



  22. anon 1: i am myself

    anon 2: i is another.

  23. Oh, how homesick I am now for delectable autumn days in my mother's backyard, with the Concord Grape arbor (that I planted) growing over the patio. It was not the place of my childhood, and the house is, in fact, in the same town where I now live. But she has been dead for nearly 11 years, and I had to sell the house soon after to people who cut down two large trees out back - so I can only guess that the arbor is gone too. They still live there; it is their home now. It is strange having nostalgia for a place that I can still walk by, as we did recently when we purchased weak lemonade being sold on the front sidewalk by the boy who was brought home to that house after his birth. I have sent him birthday cards each year, for the simple pleasure of keeping a tie and writing the address on an envelope to post in the mail. When I introduced myself to him, telling him that I knew his birthday was coming (the following week actually), he seemed enchanted by it all and delighted to meet me......

    In any case, your wondrous recollection (I agree that it is among your best writing because it is like a deep conversation with you) led me to my own. And I think the grapes may be Concords. article about a situation I was heretofore unaware of, and public domain image.

  24. I liked the details about the house vs the ugly flats. And the photo is gorgeous.

  25. Childhood reminiscences are often idyllic and untainted, yet they are anathema to the maturing psyche. Dearest, how wonderfully you write about the past and its silent shadow.

  26. J'ai eu la sensation en lisant ce texte de porter en moi chacun de ces mots...comme on porte en nous ces souvenirs d'enfance,qui sont souvent le point d'ancrage de la mélancolie , qui nous habite tous a un moment donné de nos existences...
    Les êtres souffrant de bipolarité sont dépressifs ,ce qui forcement ouvre toutes les portes des mondes sensibles.. mais aurait elle put vivre avec cette pathologie..?
    J'aurai été sa maman j'aurai malgré tout choisi aussi le traitement ..surtout après une tentative de suicide...
    Elle a laissé ces lignes ,magnifiques , que tu as su faire revivre de façon magistrale..
    Une belle façon de celebrer sa la notre ..:o)
    je t'embrasse Roxana.:)

  27. swiss, yes, who could ever resist berries? :-)

  28. billoo, i chose to elaborate a bit starting from your question, if that was an uninteresting divagation for you, what can i say?... otherwise, of course, there can be no answer at all: you should simply put some ananas into your own mouth - no words, no discussion possible.

  29. Lydia, i can't believe this!!!!!!!!!! i am sure now that they are Concord, i have checked a lot of pictures on the internet, though how on earth did this grape species developed by an american to be a popular grape in romania??!!! ahhh, it feels so strange to have a mystery solved, after so many years (though changed into another mystery, as i said :-).
    thank you so much, i can't tell you how much this means to me - and of course i am so grateful that you shared this touching story about your childhood house with us, i find this amazingly beautiful, that you keep sending birthday cards (and also, so much in tune with your nature, as i have come to know it through your blog).

  30. Rachel, thanks so much! and you've got a new blog, that's great, i was there just the other day :-)

  31. Prospero,

    the past and its shadow... yes, always, on this Bridge. and how wonderfully you put that into words, thank you...

  32. clo, merci de tout coeur, chere amie, pour avoir partage avec moi l'histoire de cette jeune fille qui m'a beaucoup troublee moi-aussi. je me suis pose les memes questions que toi, par rapport a sa situation, les sentiments et decisions de sa mere etc... bien sur que la seule chose qui importe est qu'elle soit guerie, qu'elle puisse mener une vie 'normale' mais en meme temps on ne peut que regretter les chefs-d-oeuvre poetiques qu'elle aurait peut-etre ecrit, si... ah, ce SI...

    je t'embrasse, tendre amie...

  33. Have been catching up here on the bridge and just saw your reply to my comment. It is wondrous to me that Concords are the grapes you love there, and I am also curious about how their "roots" spread around the world.

    Incidentally, Welch's Grape Juice (made from Concord grapes) is my favorite juice of all. Concord grape juice is made by other brands, but for me it must be Welch's. In high school I had a boyfriend who one year for Christmas adopted a kitten from the shelter for me and brought it in a box on Christmas morning. With the kitten inside the box were dozens of miniature bottles of Welch's Concord Grape juice (I have not seen the small bottles for decades). He told me the kitten's name was Grapejuice, but she turned out being Fancy instead!