Sicily – September 25, 2015

I’m fading. Literature has taken its toll. The compound reasons for fatigue are too dreary to enumerate. Again. Okay. For example: I am convinced the rank, yet elusive, sewage-y smell would disappear every time I might try to bring it to the attention of the management. It’s like playing peek-a-boo with an evil fart.

Anyway, I am in danger of slipping into unconsciousness at any moment. I don’t want to be the droopy old dude at the poetry reading. This morning Natasha Trethewey gave a fine lecture on the legacy of racial injustice, riffing on the evolution of Robert Penn Warren’s understanding of the conflict over his lifetime. She quotes him often and one line from his poem, Brother to Dragons, rings out with horrible resonance.

“And doom is always domestic, it purrs like a cat/And the absolute traitor lurks in some sweet corner of the blood.”

This is our final workshop. We rise to the occasion. We have become a cohesive unit, happily following Patricia’s lead. She guides us to lunch where the eight of us share a congenial end of one of the hotel’s long tables. Five of us (not I) agree to meet tomorrow in Palermo and go hear La Boheme at Teatro Massimo.

After Lynn Freed’s funny story about three women on a Greek isle, I wander into town with the eager, young fiction guy named Jon to have spot of tea at his favorite coffee stop. I read his story, a dense piece of post-modernism leavened by an off-hand sense of merriment. He’s read my Spring Comes to the Desert and dug it. Cool.

Our final meal takes place at a restaurant / hotel where we seem to be the only guests. We look out over the Mediterranean, illuminated by the backwash of an overwhelming sunset. There is much merriment and toasting. The feast is festive and perhaps the richest, most elegant, meal we’ve had. Two enormous poached fish are paraded in front of us, then served, Christ-like, to the multitude. The ‘loaf’ quotient is provided by Bread Loaf’s mere existence. The week has been blessedly sermonless.

Many sweet good-byes and promises to remain in touch. I pack, sort of.

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