This entry is part 6 of 29 in the series Conversari


Not heat but warmth — what doesn’t burn, what can safely be clutched to the breast. No ring of fire, frantic with popping & hissing & quick to burn out, but something charcoal-slow & full of mysteries: a cup of tea, a mug of black coffee. A love that rewards long looking: sunglasses aren’t required to cut the glare.

In the middle of my life I don’t dream of sun-drenched olive groves but that dark & pathless wood whose charm was sadly lost on Mr. Alighieri, where if you stand still & listen, you can hear like a distant waterfall the wild bees murmuring overhead. Up there the heat & the unseen flowers. Down here, I wake to a mouse tugging on the warm thatch atop my head, reminding me we are never truly alone.


See the photographic response by Rachel Rawlins: “For you.”

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9 Replies to “Desideratum”

  1. Oh I love this, and find I too want to dream less of ‘sun-drenched olive groves’ but tend more happily to cooler, darker places.

    (I’ve just started listening to Heathcote Williams reading ‘The Divine Comedy’ too.)

    1. Thanks, Lucy. Maybe an audiobook is the right way to take it in. I read Robert Pinsky’s translation a few years back and enjoyed it very much as poetry, but the worldview is so completely repellent to me, I was never able to persist and read the rest of the Divine Comedy.

      1. I find sunglasses on others make me, uncomfortably, dwell on myself – looking for some kind of interaction all I see is my own seeking reflection.

        I wear them frequently, of course.

    1. Oh, thanks. I tend to think of that as almost a cliched move for me — creating persective by moving beyond the merely human — but that is the way I think about these things. (And I do have a bit of a mouse problem.)

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