Bagnara Calabra

And then there is the word. Again the photo gives us what we can consider reality. It can be impersonal, in the sense that anyone could have taken that picture. Yet like a drawing, it is the result of a choice. The framing, the time of day. What strikes the observer.

A description in words is an interpretation telling us just as much about the writer as it does of the scene described.

Way back when, I took a photo. But way back when, I also wrote a description of what I was looking at.

Which one is reality?

I chanced upon a concert under the arch of Hadrian’s temple of Venus and Rome with the ruins of the Roman Forum, Caligula’s palace and the hill of the Palatinate stretching out behind. Two nuns entered, herding a swarm of small black-caped figures, little black triangles topped by round heads with big dark eyes, supported by naked white legs. They came in and stood by a brick wall. Every so often one of the little ones escaped and raced over to some invisible attraction. The taller sister was strikingly beautiful with a strong Roman face and great dark eyes. The other sister – round, with an air that should have been easy-going – only gave the impression of being stern. They finally gave up and left, surrounded by their entourage of clean little boys.

The beach is spread out like a great pale patched tarpaulin. The umber nets – the threadbare warp. The white sheets – giant patches on the faded and discolored canvas. The shadows of the children – only the shadows – play ball. Running back and forth between the patchwork quilts of laundry, appearing and disappearing, seeming to materialize from the sand. The pallid laundry stretched between two poles seems to acquire its dimension from its shadow, subtle as a line. Not the substance, but the shadow is reality. Boats swim orange on the water, hot green where it holds the sun prisoner. The opaque blue ocean further out reaches up into the sky. Black and brown triangles move along the shore, with here and there a spot of red. Abstract forms, small geometric shapes condensing and scattering like an early Mondrian. The boats are hauled in to the beach on the invisible threads of the nets pulled and coiled by barefoot women.

2 thoughts on “Bagnara Calabra

  1. Erika — your descriptions are wonder companions to the photos — the nun is so striking. She and her wards caught in your timeless photo.


  2. I love your photo and your description of the scene of the nun with her little entourage Erika. It’s a charming scene, and I find myself speculating about what they were all looking at to cause such amusement. Looking at these figures We can see clearly that they are from a different period – how the world has changed! The view of the coast is interesting too. I’m enjoying your reminiscences and reflections.


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