cŏr, cordis (lat.): heart.

I am at home, the night is near, such as the end of an ordinary September. I waste my time wandering from a room to another one, in a strange mood: that restless waiting for someone you’re used to wait for, but you’re already know he’s not coming back. I’ve been in this mood for a while, like a mute ghost. He forces me to move, not to stop, in the useless attempt to lose it.

All of a sudden, the intrusive sound of the bell freezes my step. My foot is still in the air and, for an instant, also my heart, which is, reluctantly, still an involuntary muscle. It is also stubborn, which is an anatomic paradox. The heart leaps up, persistent, and it calls your name, even though it knows that it’s not your hand that rings my bell, here, now, tonight.

In fact,  in front of me –the door opened in the impetus of that half-step, while the echo of the ring still hangs over in the air, a trill load of promises- an old man appears in the hallway.

He doesn’t speak, he doesn’t smile. He stays still, his eyes are aqueous, blue like a mirror that reflects lots of the  horizons he seems to carry on, in the elegant web drawn in his face by the wrinkles. He is silent, he looks at me, lost. I can easily understand that he’s lost, he doesn’t seem to remember anything, he doesn’t answer to my questions, in fact, he looks around with surprise, like he’s just born or he comes from another world.

I don’t know what do, so I let him in, trying to buy some time. “Would you like a glass of water?”. He doesn’t answer, he looks out the window, beyond my shoulders, the sky is going towards the sunset.

He’s physically here, but at the same time he’s absent. “Besieged by an absence”, I instantly think, stealing this world from an old song. I fill the glass, and I give it to him. The silence exacerbates the senses for a moment, and I look at him better. His face is browned by the sun, he had to be a good-looking man, when he was young. He wears a green shirt, with the sleeves rolled up. He raises the glass, bringing it to his mouth; he’s so careful that it seems like he doesn’t remember how to do such a simple action. I notice some little black signs on his wrist and suddenly, a strange fear attacks me. I’ve never experienced this fear of old conflicts, lived just trough the books. I become itchy and suddenly I realize I just let a perfect stranger into my house. An irrational fear. “He can’t stay here”. I get nervous. He doesn’t notice anything, lost in his thought, that I guess is empty, white. I slowly get near to look better, I was wrong, it wasn’t a tattoo, but something written in ink, his address maybe? It’s illegible, partially erased, it seems wet.

I breathe, noticing that I have been keeping the air in my lungs for the duration of my journey through the meanness of humanity. Mine. I feel ashamed and, on impulse, I decide: “Come” I say to him “I’ll take you, you’re lost”. I think I can take him to the barracks, they will know what to do.

We’re in the car, and the sun starts going down.

A sunset last a few minutes, and they say there is never one equal to another. And yet here, in the city of the incessant hot wind, a miracle happens, daily, every day the same. When the night comes, at the time when the light goes from orange to pink, for a moment, the city and its seedy port shine with an ancient glare. It lasts just a second, but it’s marked in those who have lived here. A blink of an eye, then the ugliness of the metropolis takes over, and the colors of the sunset go back to be cooler and cooler until they disappear in the twilight with an imperceptible calm, making forget that flash of immense beauty, at least until the next day. It’s the only reason why we always come back here, those who have seen it. We have lived an immense moment, so hard to tell but still so persistent to stain even the most stubborn hearts. The ones of the sailors, who are far in the darkness of the taverns overseas, but maybe for an instant they can find the memory of that daily, magic moment, hidden somewhere in the density of the wine, and- secretly- they regret it.

I slow down without noticing it, ravished and surprised by that great beauty, as always.

My companion opens his eyes and he makes me stop with a gesture. He doesn’t speak. He goes out. There’s a fishing pole by the sea. He takes it, he prepares the hook and he throws it with an old and slow gesture, sure. The sun, almost swallowed by the water, gives its last sketches of a purple light; it paints one by one the circles that expand slowly, vibrant, inexorable, ephemeral.

In that moment I understand the truth about that mysterious encounter. He has never been lost, at least no more than I am, or you are.

I leave him there. And I go away. But I don’t go back home, ‘cause you can forget with your mind, but with your heart, no, you can’t.

 

“L'uomo mortale, Leucò, non ha che questo d'immortale. Il ricordo che porta e il ricordo che lascia.

Nomi e parole sono questo. Davanti al ricordo sorridono anche loro, rassegnàti.”[1] (Cesare Pavese)

 

 

 

 

 

[1]  “The mortal man has just this of immortal, Leucò: the memory he brings and the memory he leaves. Names and words are this. In front of the memory, they also smile, face it.”

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