n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt...

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Una Mattina

Yesterday when we walked up to join the others in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio for the demonstration for Iran, everyone was already singing.  And of course what they were singing, was Bella Ciao.

At a certain point a woman in front of us turned to her companion.  She wondered aloud if it would be the last time for a while, that we’d be hearing this, in a public square in Florence.

I know we will keep on singing.  We sang it to Salvini’s face years ago.

But still my heart sank.

[Santo Spirito, Firenze | domenica 25 settembre 2022 ore 12:09:25] []

“It always is.”

Today was thirteen years since I lost my grandmother.

(Most of my other mothers too, in the meantime.)

And it has been almost a month now, of memory getting in the way of history.

But over at The Slowdown, there is this, by Sanna Wani:


to teach my dog how to be alive. When she arrived in my life, she was a surprise.  And
because she surprised me,  she was a miracle.   It was a time of death.   It always is.   I
was afraid  and then undone by her.   She has never known her mother  and when my
mother sees her,   she scrunches up her nose   and says,   “You have no mummy?   Me
too.”   She just lost her mom.   My brother was angry.   He asked, “Who’s fault?” and I
said the state. I had no answer.  What does blame do in a catastrophe? The week after
my grandmother died, I attended class. They were talking about what killed her like it
was  an inconvenience.    Like it wasn’t  a monster,    haunting  my bed,    hunting   the
vulnerable.  Who are  the vulnerable?   Those who work hard?   Who were born?  Who
bear something that says, I might be possible to you? I don’t like that I wrote that, but
I won’t erase it.  Too grand.  It forgets  the bruised tendons of  her hands  the last time
she held them out to me. The blister on her left heel  the last time she walked. The last
time I  felt  present  with her,  her  breaking  lungs,  she sat up to eat.  To drink milk.  I
threw out all  her medication.  My  aunts  were  angry.  I cradled  her head in  my hand
and said, “Twenty four years ago, I was your baby and now you’re mine.” Someday my
dog will die. I might touch her once  before she goes. My parents are getting older. My
brother is so  far away  and  my sister’s  house is flooded.  The Texas snow.  But I went
on a walk with my Lola  and sometimes she kisses the ankles she gnaws.  When I want
to kiss someone, my lips throb.  Every touch is a miracle.  All of you are so beautiful to me.  Please.  Teach me how to be.

After Afzal Mama.

There was a summer I was sick in Karachi—I must have been nine or ten or eleven.  Afterwards, I confessed to Amma that Nani’s hands on my forehead had felt softer, softer even than hers.

It was maybe the one time I said something to my mother about loving someone other than her — in addition to her — that she did not mind.

[Santo Spirito, Firenze | venerdì 23 settembre 2022 ore 11:09:25] []
[Ada Limón] [Agha Shahid Ali] [Sanna Wani]
[empire & settler-colonialism] [family] [grief/loss] [memory] [time]

Net Work

What is most important maybe, is that you write down the thing, as close as possible to when you see or say or feel or know the thing.

(Know as an active, bodily verb.  It’s still the mind that is doing it, yes, but doing it bodily.  Like when you’re holding the hand of someone with whom you are newly in love.  Like dancing and like kissing—real kissing, when your mouth is also your body.)

Write it down then.  As close as possible.  As close as you can.

[Santo Spirito, Firenze | sabato 3 settembre 2022 ore 14:09:07] []
[making art] [making meaning]

A Sweet Decline

This today, from the last day of the Sealey Challenge, via a fellow reader... A line in “East Mountain View” by Paul Tran, from Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience:

It sucks / belonging to anywhere, to anything.

And this too—this poem by Chris Abani.  This whole fucking poem:


A train travels through a Midwestern cornfield,
yellow slants to gold as the sun leans heavy on the horizon;

this meager harvest of memory and hope—
the entropy of a coffee cup half spilling into

a wash of half-truths. A sweet decline.
To have spent your life thinking, I am

the good one, the stable one, then one
morning in a city between the city you call

home and the one you are traveling to, you
accept: you are migrant. This is where you

find yourself, somewhere between coercion
and insubstantial desire, the slow decomposition that is

life. Yet for now this half-light, the gentle
sway on the tracks, music enough for this journey.


Meanwhile trying to decide, what to do with September.  The Sealey Challenge always does this to me—always leaves me feeling at the end of the month, a clinging.  What will I do with this small but consistent space I have made in my month?  More importantly, what will I do with this tiny, held discipline?

I do not want for it to smooth or soften over into everything else—this small facet I have managed to make, in the stone of each living, being, day.

[Santo Spirito, Firenze | giovedì 1 settembre 2022 ore 12:09:07] []
[Chris Abani] [Paul Tran]
[The Sealey Challenge]