The Consequences of Falling

A nano second. That’s all it is.

And one finds oneself face down,

trying to recover an awareness of oneself.

That’s what happens when one falls –

the fall itself –

that moment when the body moves from upright

to horizontal,

that moment perhaps before one’s head hits the ground,

somehow no longer exists.

Then all quiet

one enters back into oneself,

takes note of one’s surroundings,

moves, tries to reassure oneself,

the others, that it’s nothing,

catches one’s breath.

Gradually reality sinks in

and hope.

Hope you didn’t break a bone,

hope the dog didn’ t run away.

(I did break a bone, the dog did not run away)

You realize

you’re sitting on a chair,

people gather round,

later you wonder where they came from.

Someone brings you a glass of water,

your wrist hurts,

you can’t move your hand,

someone brings you ice,

calls the ambulance.


Your arm is in a cast – your arm and wrist –

your right arm!

Suddenly you discover how essential

it is to have

TWO functional arms and hands.

So now you try to figure out what you can do,


Writing on the computer, hunt and peck, works for a while.

But inspiration is somehow put on the back burner.

How long must I keep this cast?

And then, will I be able to do most of what I did before?

Time will tell. But in the meanwhile

let me turn to my books, faithful companions

who never abandon me.

They will have changed to keep company with me

offering me new insights,

although it is I who have changed.

I was not mature enough to perceive

what was really meant

when we first became friends.

And then of course it all depends on what books

now crowd the few available shelves I have

here in my city apartment.

Often the one I want is elsewhere, where I can’t go

not only since I no longer have a car,

but because it is no longer feasible

 for me to navigate that spiral staircase

visitors ooh and aah about.

But just to pass those hours when I can’t draw,

can’t make my zucchini coconut cake,

can’t clean out the fridge,

or even wash a plate,

I can at least read.

So I choose a book,

my eyes coming to rest on Antonio Tabucchi

in the unmistakeable Sellerio edition. 

Lying on my back, careful not to stress that arm,

I hold  the book

with one hand only.

I had read some of his brief pieces before:

Sogni di sogni, racconti con figure, and then I volatili di beato angelico.

Some had been translated by no less than Tim Parks.

Since I can’t find the English adaptations on the web

why not try a version of my own.

It’s amazing how our comprehension changes

as we mature.

I find I never really analyzed what I read,

asked myself about the style,

or why the author chose this word rather than another.

What then seemed a simple fairy tale has so many hidden meanings. 

Reading, and transforming what I read into a different language,

is a way of keeping my mind busy, of working with words,

for as we grow older it is words that begin to elude us.

Tossing and turning at night

we try to find that donkey bridge, as my mother called that mnemomic device,

that would help us remember.

Porcospino, riccio. Now what are their equivalents in English?

Finally they come to the surface. Porcupine, hedgehog

(But why hog – perhaps because the little creature roots around in the leaves?

Although porcupines too not only root around

but dig up and nibble on the squash or corn meant for our table.)

Tabucchi. For some reason I had chosen his eight-page story

I  volatili di beato angelico.

Strange flying creatures arrive in the convent of San Marco

where Fra Angelico is both gardener and painter.

They have come to serve as models for his frescoes.

As Tabucchi says “. Translation is a fascinating adventure. . . .  You learn so much; it’s an excellent exercise, and a form of writing.”

So translating Tabucchi is what I have set myself to do.

7 thoughts on “The Consequences of Falling

  1. Don’t remind me about falls! As for translations, I have my own articles, which I translate into Grenglish, a strange language known only to us immigrants! Jerry


    1. Unfortunately we all fall at some time or another.
      As for Grenglish, sounds interesting. Must say that often articles written by “professors” often might as well be in Grenglish.
      Happy holidays.


  2. “for as we grow older it is words that begin to elude us.”
    Lovely painful and brilliant
    Your words Erika continue to rain about you like falling stars! Inspiring us lucky enough to be in your orbit!


  3. Dearest Erika,
    Thank you for so poetically letting us know to send you healing wishes on your arm and wrist!
    I am sure it is inconvenient and limiting, but I am grateful your lower extremities, mind, and spirit remain strong.
    Much love for always,
    jhan in Bisbee AZ


  4. Erika, I am so sorry you fell! I wish I was there in Orvieto to visit you. However, you have make a writing–a poem–a creative reality I can join! Thank you, Erika. Love. Aileen


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