Friday, June 25, 2010

Tyger Requiem

After they shot Tatiana

he went back to that halting gait

he had as a widower,

before her sensual energy

bounced off the rocks, twice felt.

That she, not he, went after the boys

who taunted them tells something

about the couple. Ferocity:

that was hers, and he let her have it,

even if it meant she cuffed him

once in a while, her ears laid back,

her lethal claws retracted.

Tatiana never lost her wildness,

viciously attacked the hand that fed her,

then sank into a corner and glared

at the terrified witnesses.

Her old mate went into fits of fear

at a tiger poster the zoo put up

and then took down, from pity.

Tatiana groomed her sunset stripes,

pretended not to notice.

Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Sleek, amber-eyed, big, bumbling.

After Tatiana was gone,

it hardly seemed worthwhile,

the great yellow-toothed yawn

which made the children scream.

His joints ached; he was confused

without her direction. He wet himself,

couldn’t get out of the dry moat

where she had forced her freedom

(was he trying to follow her ghost?)

Finally they came crying with his release

and with a mild flick of the black and orange tail

he left his lovely body.

(Tony, March 21, 1991-June 22, 2010)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Outside, Looking In (2)

Alessandro, the journalist from Rome who was with us this past week, showed us how difficult it is to be under dispassionate scrutiny for hours at a time.

On the other hand, the scrutiny went both ways. Alessandro was unguarded, surely an unusual trait in an investigative reporter.

After only four days, for instance, I knew that he was careful with money, didn’t drink much, that he gave up trying to learn to play the flute. He knew his little daughter’s shoe size. I learned what it takes to get a press card in Rome (roughly like passing the Bar examination in the U.S.), learned how he voted in the last election. All the while adjusting lights and focus, working, plying his trade, Alessandro showed who he really was, simply because he didn’t try to hide.

“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” Michael Brackney brought this quotation from Anais Nin to my attention.

This makes me feel fortunate that the eye behind the camera this week was that of Alessandro.

Outside, Looking In

I have been watching myself all week long.

Instead of wearing the same thing every day, I have mined my frugal wardrobe for something colorful. I have put on makeup, have combed my hair, polished my fingernails, lamented my wrinkles.

The reason for all this extreme self-consciousness is a documentary filmmaker from Rome who was here Monday through yesterday shooting footage for a show about my daughter Anna, who went missing 37 years ago.

The show isn’t even about me, but there seems to be something in us, or at least in me, which wants to put a good face on things. Literally. “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

The Italian journalist, a charming and engaging second-generation movie man, must have worked ten hours a day behind his camera. He filmed the house, inside and out. He set up interviews which necessitated moving all the furniture and changing all the lights.

He filmed us talking, practicing, going through trunks and boxes, trying to find what he called “artifacts”. Taking a break to pull a few weeds in the garden, I looked up to see that I was on camera and hoped that I hadn’t shown an unflattering backside.

This may seem like a lot of camera work, he explained, but images go by in just a few seconds, and we have to have images to match the script. All this is expected to form a 15 or 20-minute segment on a show called “Que l’ho visto”, which has been running for some 22 years in Italy.

By yesterday, as we ate spaghetti (was it sufficiently al dente for an Italian? Was the sauce good? Should I have hand-grated the parmesan?) and prepared to say goodbye, I felt completely looked-at. Nicodemos and I went to play some music for our guest before taking him to the airport.

“But I don’t have my camera!” he said.

“Good,” we said. “So you can’t work.”

(Searching for Anna, published by Lulu Press, is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.)