Nail Chiodo

Loud in War

Canto IX

Italian women need be bequeathed one
For one to have concourse with them
As they are always on the run
Back to some former haven
From amongst the perpetual trinity
Of parents, boy friend, husband.
There are exceptions, of course,
Though these tend to be islanders
Or more generally southern
And of particularly proud mien.
But why dwell on so much boredom1?
There still are times in the girls’ hearts,
And then some when they are gown-up women,
Before fall and relapse into dissimulation
Can close the frontiers of their stag-nation;
When oceanic winds may yet sweep them up,
Carry them away from family and friends,
Hurl them into a state of independence
Whence to start again on less stolid footing.
The unuttered promises of those bare moments—
Though less often realized than a lottery win—
Keep them just alive enough with fate
That even in the Inertial City2
Patient philosophers may taste of freedom:
That may still be love which requires presentation
And snaps like a fishy wish-bone at the tug3
Marina was born of the sea, as her name intends,
And for that she is dear not least to Eliot, and to Shakespeare4;
But she had plenty of resources also on land:
Handsome, well-grounded breasts—no silly fears
That with time they might sag—and a languishing
Mandolino of an ass that feigned
It never, as yet, had been plucked;
The space between her teeth, the mole on her left cheek;
She was the Mahdi, the Expected One!5

And Lud could not believe his luck
When Kris came up with her as ransom.
All knew the signs of the ancient flame6:
Lud, Marina and her de jure7 boy friend
Were both stirred and shaken, poured into a cone
Of events too small and made to spill over
Carrying the olive with them. For Lud,
It was the last drop; for the poor girl,
A chance to pick up the mop; and, for the friend,
Only a hop to the strand of consummate marriage:
A living version of the modern scenario.
That was the flop that occasioned the flip
In Lud’s stance towards women in general
And life in this world in specific.

  1. cf. Dante, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto I, Vergil after telling of his identity and past on Earth.

  2. Rome (the “Eternal” City).

  3. cf. Shakespeare, Sonnet 116, lines 2-4.

  4. _viz. _Shakespeare, Pericles; _viz. _T.S. Eliot, Marina.

  5. signs identifying the Mahdi or Moslem Messiah.

  6. cf. Vergil, Aeneid, IV, 23, in regard to Dido’s love for Aeneas.

  7. Lat. “by right”.

Canto X