The month of Mary
(First published June 1, 2020)
The month of Mary ends in a riot of bells in the evening while we’re eating dinner— a call to her mass at 9;30pm. I open the kitchen window to the song and prayers and the cool night air.
The month of Mary ends in a riot of bells, a herd of cattle up on the mountaintop, a flock of sheep in the valley. It's a language poor in spirit that has only one word for "bells" I say but no one hears above the ringing.
The month of Mary ends in riots.
I think of him telling me: “When you are a kid in Ghana you learn that white people are so good, so perfect and good. Watch, if you were in Ghana right now you would be walking down the street and all the kids would be around you, treating you like a god, wanting to say hello and be near you. This is just how we’re taught. Before I first came here I thought it would be like that for me, that black people here in Europe would be like gods like white people are in Ghana.
I didn’t know”, he says.
He laughs a little at himself; his naïveté.
“We are all just human you know,” he says.
The month of Mary ends in a phone call: two dual citizens, expatriated, home but not home, watching from different parts of this continent over here, “How are you?” we say, as usual. We are adrift. Where the heart is is broken, breaking, broken. We’ve known for a long time it was like this. We didn’t leave for any of these these reasons but now? “I always thought I would go back", she says, "but I don’t think I can live like that again.” Useless with our buckets, an ocean from the fire.
The month of Mary ends in protest, closer by. Limits have been reached and there is hunger.
We are allowed just two to a table in the morning, masked. We discuss an aborted potential. Have you decided? I can’t hear myself answer the question. The cafe pop music and the tinny bells of a poor rural church and the birds and boy shouting “papà!” and the loudspeaker intoning mass from up the hill in keeping with the current regulations and, inexplicably, three Harley Davidsons, and all the past months of quiet is over, but everything that isn’t roses is so very green.
The month of Mary ends in the kitchen again, past midnight and it’s raining.
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I added this blog as a way to share some thoughts and experiences around the impact of Covid-19 on my life here in Southern Italy. These posts have been a near-daily practice during this time and are largely unedited, most having been first posted on Facebook. They are of course in order with the most recent entry on the first page. I invite you to explore previous posts or even start from the beginning.