Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bitten Deep by Sariah Choucair

April 27, 2010

The following blog captured the Sirenland experience so beautifully.  I'm posting it here with the permission of the author, a very talented writer. Please check out her blog at http://yellsoftly.com/2010/03/30/bitten-deep/

Bitten Deep

A last attempt: the language is a dialect called metaphor.
These images go unglossed: hair, glacier, flashlight.
When I think of a landscape I am thinking of a time.
When I talk of taking a trip I mean forever.
I could say: those mountains have a meaning
but further than that I could not say.
To do something very common, in my own way.
-Excerpt from “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning” by Adrienne Rich
What can I say about Positano? Should I tell you about the way the sky melds with the sea, a steel dome enclosing pastel homes stacked like pastry boxes and the turquoise water that rolls over black sand beaches? Perhaps you’d rather hear about watching the tide come in on my last night there, or how the waiters moved in crisp white jackets among jewel-like lemon trees in the dining room draped with ivy? I could inadequately describe steamed milk and perfect coffee served from silver pitchers or the endless glasses of golden prosecco passed by gentlemen with tender eyes, like Roberto.
If I was ambitious I could tell you about the people, my fellow writers and, now, friends. I could start with the children, pure treasures wrapped in small packages named Jacob and Lucy, who told me (rightly) “you really must try the vanilla gelato” and who, when one evening became so wonderful I thought my heart would break, allowed me to sit with them, listen to their dreams of being writers, designers, and a “pilot who writes pilots,” and give them scenarios to test their acting chops. 
I could move on, then, to the adults who imprinted themselves in my heart like handprints in soft plaster, the women and men who would humor my overwrought simile because they experienced it, too. And it is here your narrator finds herself, at last, without words because they were so wonderful, they were so kind, they were so fantastic.
Wise writers tell you to write about things from a distance. Wise writers tell you to avoid writing about topics previously covered by John Steinbeck. I am not wise.
I don’t want distance from Sirenland. I want to hold it in my hands, a diorama, a silver snowglobe that I can shake and then peek through a crack in the silver dome to remember, perfectly, what it was to be there. I will conjure rigorous mornings spent with writers I admired; an afternoon spent writing and sipping espresso on a cast iron deck over the Mediterranean; late night chats and farewell dance parties; the realization of the friendship of a lifetime; the life-changing realization that, in the end, there is always the work and that this work of putting words on a page is mine.
I don’t have a silver snowglobe, but I do have a perfectly smooth wishing stone picked from the beach by an amazing teacher. This morning I roll the stone between my palms, fight sleep, and write. 
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The title refers to this famous quote from Steinbeck’s essay:  “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”