Bella Ciao

I heard on the news this evening that the Christmas concert given in Bologna’s church of Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesu has caused uproar. It included the wonderful partisan anthem, Bella Ciao! I don’t think the parroco knew it was in the programme.

Here is a version sung by Yves Montand, born Ivo Livi whose family fled Mussolini’s Italy in the 1920s

 

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Microfiction: News

This short story is in response to Ronovan’s weekly Friday Fiction prompt:

You’ve just been handed a message that makes you drop to the floor, trembling uncontrollably.

Franz_Skarbina_Die_Briefleserin

She had seriously considered boarding up the letterbox, nailing the damn flap closed. Nobody sent letters any more, only people after money. Since J. had walked out taking the cat, the car and the jewellery his mother had given her as a wedding present, she had drawn in her horns, speaking to nobody, dreading the ring tone of the telephone, the doorbell, car doors slamming in the street outside. Even the night chattered and hummed with incessant mocking noise. She pulled the sheet over her head, but it made no difference. He laughed, wherever he was. The neighbours laughed. Her co-workers laughed. The whole world belly-laughed itself sick over her stupidity. She sobbed into her pillow, took a tablet and shut out the mocking voices in an intermittent dull sleep.

Life became a disjointed sequence of light and dark, day noise and night noise. She gave up calling in to work, never went to the doctor’s appointments. Nothing that came out of the phone or through the letterbox had any weight in her existence. Nothing until the envelope flopped through the flap onto the floor. It was a plain white envelope, handwritten, with a stamp. She stared at it lying like an incubus, white and ghostly, a phantom from another time when communication meant letters. She pushed it with her foot, as if expecting it to give a sign of life. It didn’t. It lay there, silent and menacing, daring her to approach.

The letter didn’t go away, so she picked it up and with a decisive movement tore open the envelope. It was hand-written.

You don’t know me, the letter said.

She read on, a sense of oppression settling in the pit of her stomach.

I got your address from the agency.

The words blurred and she didn’t want to go on.

You don’t answer the phone or reply to emails, the letter went on, so I’m writing. I’m coming to see you.

She resisted the temptation to screw the paper into a ball.

I’ll keep on coming round until you see me.

The threat made her feel faint.

I have to know why you did it.

She knew what was coming next, knew but couldn’t stop it. Maybe if she stopped reading it wouldn’t happen? She knew she was kidding herself.

I have to know why a mother would abandon her baby.

The floor rushed up to meet her and the world went black.

Caparison: decor of the past.

I thnk it was some time in November last year that Ali Isaac first suggested we each write a retelling of an Irish legend to give away in a booklet which we would then fill up with promotion for the books we have already published. The idea took root, and before we knew it, it had metamorphosed into a collection of love stories that we would publish for Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day, as everybody knows is half way through February. And before that there’s Christmas to get through and the assorted afflictions that health throws at us at this time of year. That didn’t give us much time.
I’m proud to announce that we have done it! Our collection of love stories from Irish myth is uploaded to Amazon and waiting in the wings for the big release day. For almost two months we have been living and breathing Irish myth, heroines and heroes from a very different time. People were different then, incomprehensible in many ways, even though the rawest of the emotions probably haven’t changed much at all over the centuries.
The picture below is one I downloaded because I liked the colour and the movement. But looking more closely, I see, or I think I see, some of those differences of sensibility that separate us from our distant past. The picture is entitled Caparison, and so is the poem.

Caparisson

Was life really so simple then?
Wars fought and won
With just a handful of rockinghorse men?
What were they defending,
Land, lord, families?
And did they ride out with these thoughts,
Vivid as the sun,
Carved on their hearts?
The turned, worried faces say it all.
Death approaches a spear’s length away,
Chain mailed and caparisoned.
Men’s tiny faces furrowed in anguish,
So clearly drawn,
And the faceless helmets,
Sinister in their repeated facelessness.
This we understand,
The fear, the grief, the shame.
But there is more,
Equally important to the artist’s eye,
Pretty ochres and shades of Sienna,
Terracotta,
The swirl of waves, fins or blue leaves,
But not a drop of blood,
Not yet,
Not until the end.
All is movement across a muddy field
And all the horses are smiling.