2/23/2004

In which a ship makes for port

I was just a fat little sausage of a paisan' when that big beautiful boat came sailing up the river and into port, I'll never forget it. By way of carrier pigeon the duomo and therefore the whole city had already heard of its new capitano and the heroic exploits thereof but still that hardly prepared us for the sight on a blue day of the white sails puffing out and beneath them, balanced on the bowsprit, the young man with the diver's helmet tucked under his arm. From the banks of the canal women threw camelias that covered the decks and caught in the hero's tangled hair, but he never moved, not even to brush them away. He might have been molded in brass, except for his face, which whether from sun or wind or embarassment was a shade closer to copper.

No sooner had the stevadoros unloaded the big barrels of spices than they were pried open in celebration. Vino de la casa and pinches of pepper were passed from hand to hand, and the revels went on for seven days and nights. I was as I've mentioned just a plump little cannoli of a paisan', but even I was showered with kisses and flowers and wine. For that reason, and for others, I will always remember.