Friday, March 14, 2008

Memory of Quitandinha (Sunday Scribblings)

This photo was lifted from Google Images

Sunday Scribblings gave us a choice of past prompts, and I chose Hotel Stories.

The year was 1954, and we had been in Brazil, a country still new to us and glamorous to us, for only a few months, when we first saw this grand hotel in Petropolis. The story we were told at that time (which I find no hint of in their current web literature) was that it had been built by the Brazilian government as a casino, and that, shortly after completion, the Brazilian government had outlawed gambling! It was (and still is) a magnificent hotel. One difference that I noted in current photos is that the facade of the building is now flood-lighted at night. That was not the case in 1954, when only a few lights reflected on the lake, leaving the rest to darkness and the stars.

The room rates were such that we could barely afford three tiny rooms for ourselves and our four children. The hotel had dining halls and ballrooms, breakfast rooms and art galleries, conservatories and libraries. What it lacked was a swimming pool. The lake in front of it was lovely but undeveloped, reedy at the edges, with a small dock for swan boats - those two-seated pedal craft built to look like swans. In truth, the boats didn't seem to bother the real swans, who floated majestically among them. The lake was NOT intended for swimming, but the day had been hot, and Otto and I craved the relief of cool water. With the children asleep in their two rooms (daughter Candace responsible enough to take care of any emergency) we sneaked out of the hotel and down to the lake.

This is my memory in informal verse:

A Memory of Quitindinha

The water of the lake
by day opaque and wearing swans
was ink at night
the southern cross
afloat upon its skin.

Our bodies bare
to warm grass-scented air
we pushed the stars aside
and ruffled constellations
as we waded in—
our limbs grown clumsy
in the unfamiliar element
you and I
still tied to earth
by mud that oozed between our toes.

The tepid water rose
past ankles, waists
until we stood neck deep
then lying back as though to sleep
our knees bobbed to the surface
our backs arched upward and we floated—
water's whisper against our eardrums
hair waving from scalps like seagrass
and all our tethers broken.

Our arms drifted outward
until our fingers touched
and were our sole solidity—
all else defined
by gently rocking water that upheld us
and by the dark infinities above
cold, remote, and glorious with stars
whose reflected fragments
shivered near us.

Later
when
in our rented bed
under the slanting eaves
we touched again
we were buoyed up
gently rocked on primal seas
and the stars were glorious
glorious!

15 comments:

gautami tripathy said...

Great memories. Great post!

The books I would write

Robin said...

I love that you braved the untamed murk and the swans to go swimming, what a wonderful spirit you always show.

keith hillman said...

Simply beautiful. A lovely memory lovingly recounted.

Lilibeth said...

I love the first stanza. Your love of fine words and sounds gives radiant life to the image.

paisley said...

oh that was tantalizing... and the ending simply put crescendo!!!!

Inland Empire Girl said...

THe use of poetry here is so nice. What a lovely way to bring up the memories.

tumblewords said...

Excellent! The words and the event are a perfect poetic match of soul. Lovely!

Kristin said...

Hi, fun to get the picture and explanation for one of my favorite poems. I have a request that you publish the Serpent in My Garden as I have lost it. Next time, I'll keep a master. I like to share that one... very useful.

I love your current flower picture. I'm trying to recognize it.

Remiman said...

From one wordsmith to another, poetic manipulations portraying stolen moments of solitude and bliss. These are wondrous memories.
rel

steviewren said...

I think you are such an amazing person. I hope you don't mind but I linked a post on my blog to you today.

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Jane Doe said...

That was wonderful! Great writing! Thanks for sharing.

Jane

the mother of this lot said...

Beautiful as always!

GreenishLady said...

Although it's now Wednesday, I'm so glad I went to explore a few of this week's Sunday Scribblings! This poem is a real gem. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing it.

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