Monday, January 16, 2012

Canterboli Tales

My mind is crammed with world literature, poetry, history of times and places past and exotic, filled with the arcane and the wondrous, intellectual delights and much too awful to recall without falling depressed into debilitation and sickness, weltschmertz, and loathing; but there is the swell of grand and elaborate hopes and dreams, visions of an impossible future of unfolding treasures and mad joys to indulge, of joke to retell. I have a full mind. But my Spanish is limited, and I slow down to a halt often enough, finding myself in a void of communication, searching for something I just do not have, i.e. the word that others will understand. And then, too, I find my English lowers to the simple, to the cliched, to the basic just above my Spanish. I speak the easy and the immediate. Gone are Bocaccio, Dante, Chaucer. 'I'm going to the tienda to buy soap.' This I say to travelers I meet, my tale, my contribution.

People I meet are often mysteries to me, as occult as stones. And when their secrets are reveled to me, when I hit on the right words and combinations thereof, I find often that they are going to the tienda to buy soap.

Few people traveling (those I meet) are on a pilgrimage to some holy site of universal power, they chattering away the days telling tales of the high and low to wile away the hours and the days as they move slowly toward the magnificent, telling tales of eternal delight. Nor are they driven from their homes by plagues, public or private, in search of anything much more than moving along from here to there in search of another mile and tea at a cafe in the sun, a stroll down the market highstreet to browse among local handicrafts for some thing or other to take back home when the traveling is done. Some might stop on the sidewalk briefly to admire the old statuary atop a church facade, or they might stop for ice-cream to eat under the shelter of a tree in the park. The tale of the day is cosmically interesting insofar as it is possible. The day of travel is as simple as buying soap. The great literature of the world rests idly in my mind, and I long to chat with simple girls, clean and smiling, their tales of sweet smells and smooth skin and warm water, tales of soap and bath.

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