Ann Pedone

Fifteen Essays on Boats, Boats, Language, and the SS
November 23, 2023 Pedone Ann

From: Hotel Sappho






The Palermo Airport is not large. One terminal spread out
over four floors, including, what the website of the Aeroporto di
Palermo refers to as a “subterranean level”, or, if you switch to
“Italian”, il piano sottoterraneo.



Anything sotto is, of course, its own special kind of ache,
not at all dissimilar to a man who has just endured a long, painful
period of erotic uncertainty.



Even though I had read that the train is the least convenient
way of getting into the city, I knew I had no choice but to take it.
There is a long history of foreigners and European train travel; but
that’s not something we’re going to get into right now.



The word for “foreigner” in Italian is straniero. Strano means
“strange.” If you look up straniero in the Collins Italian-English
Dictionary, you’ll find the following example: Cacciare lo straniero.
To drive out the foreigner.
Which, while not a complete sentence, is enough to make you
realize that in the Mediterranean, which side of the shore you are
standing on is never just a metaphor.



And then the second: È un problema perchè deve far fronte
all’invasione di imbarcazioni straniere. It is a problem because it
has to face the invasion of foreign boats.



One of the first things you learn as a student of Italian is that
it is quite common to omit the subject in a sentence.  We don’t like to
do this in English. We prefer to hold onto our subjects. Like a man
holds onto a dead father’s regrets or the muscle memory of fucking.



Here, the third person singular deve doesn’t have a subject—which
means we are free to insert one of our own.



Clearly, the only option is Cy Twombly’s painting Leaving
Paphos Ringed with Waves (II) painted in 2009 and first shown at the
Gagosian Gallery in Athens.



The gallery is located at 3 Merlin Street.



Which is just a couple of doors down from 6 Merlin Street.



Where, before the War, you would have found an insurance agency.



And, during the War, the SS Headquarters in Greece.



Where the Nazis imprisoned and tortured members of the Greek resistance.



Today it is a cosmetics shop.



Whether or not this is what Herodotus meant by “History”, I’m not
at liberty to say.


Ann is a poet, non-fiction writer, and literary translator. She is the author of The Medea Notebooks (Etruscan Press), and The Italian Professor’s Wife (Press 53), as well as numerous chapbooks. Her work has appeared in The American Journal of Poetry, the Dialogist, Barrow Street, 2River, Tupelo Quarterly, The Texas Review, and the Chicago Quarterly Review. Ann has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared as Best American Poetry’s “Pick of the Week”. She graduated from Bard College and has a Master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Berkeley.