Spaghetti in Lamoux


I can’t remember when it was that my mother left me, it must have been when I was a girl as she was not here when two sailors made a woman of me. I have never been so hungry as that night, nor so beautiful. I remember that afterwards the two men took me to a part of the town that I had never been before, it was Autumn but still warm and they bought me the biggest plate of spaghetti that I had ever seen. It was the warmest, softest, most satisfying meal I had ever eaten. After that Spaghetti I couldn’t think of a better price that those sailors could have paid for the spark in my eye. A lady who said that she was my mother appeared before my terrace one evening, yet how can one tell one lady from a mother you have forgotten? So I smiled and played along and I took her to a part of the town where she said she had never been before. It was Spring and the streets had yet to be shaded by the elm leaves. I bought her the biggest plate of the very same spaghetti and she said it was the most delicious thing anyone had eaten since Adam had bitten into the apple. I asked her who Adam was. She finished the spaghetti and seemed gladdened as her smile was less weary, this gladdened me, I then told her that I would meet her there again the next day. I never went back. My name is Annette. Although in all my years I have caught very little. Often I will walk down the streets in my best dress to the cemetery where the sun’s light will get caught in the pink threads and I practice my dancing. I am a fine dancer, or so I am told, and I believe it is from all the days practicing in the sunlight, in the old cemetery. Dancing on the dead.


My dark skin is said to be from my parents laying too close to the fire when they coupled. My brothers are all fair so I, with my negro like eyes, my chocolate skin, and raven hair, I am the oddity of we De’Roubes. I am also the bravest. Whilst only Nine years old I was wrongly accused of burning down a church in the village of Houger near the German border. This Church was the most beautiful church in the country, built by the hands of angels. It was said that it stands on the spot that Joan of the Arc fell and that it was built in one night. I was born in this village and despised by all, yet I was loved by the statues and carvings in this church and would go to them daily. Not to pray to them but to sing to them. Yes I would sing made up hymns of Lions and Soldiers, of Crying Babies and Aging Women. I would then dust each one of them with a handkerchief and leave them until the morrow. Then one night it was said that I was not to go into the church due to me being touched by the finger of the devil whilst my mother was sleeping by the hearth. I did not protest as I knew it was quite useless but walked far into the hills until I could look down onto the village of Houger. And it was then that I saw the church was in flames. I could not believe my young eyes, and all manner of thoughts were going through my mind. The strongest of them being that I would be accused of this tragedy, and my life would be a ruin. So I left that village of Houger and walked far south. Down to the capital of Lamoux. It is here in Lamoux where I have been ever since, playing the guitar in the cafes and singing the same hymns that I sung to the statues in the church of my home land.


It has been said of me that I am a witch, the daughter of gypsies, That great authors have based their heroines on me. Should I guess at what else? Should I partake in the vanity of finding out? Should I find out what is the truth? I am not a witch this much is true, I do not fly, though I have not yet tried. My parents did travel an awful amount, leaving me here in the company of my grandmother, which turned for the best as they both died in an automobile accident so I surmise they were Gypsies in the general sense, or maybe just gadabouts. As For the great novelists. I have known many novelists, all have yet to be proven great. I am a Lady growing old. The word Great i would have once used on many things and many people. I now save it for very few things, barely no one and make a point of using it in reference to no event. The city of Lamoux once had many events that I would have called ‘great’ such as the building of and opening of grand buildings with neoclassical designs. It always helped with a bit of absinth. and the people were great, even the novelists, the best being a girl who used to tell us to ‘beware’ we never knew what she was telling us to beware of, it turns out she meant time. I now know what she means. Ah, looking back, everything in youth is great. even love. Even when it disappears and drowns. Now the only great thing in this city is a cafe where you can buy a plate of the most grand spaghetti for quite cheap and watch a young darkly handsome man play his guitar and sing songs which have the most extraordinary holy strength. He is clearly in love.


For thirty years I have been the soul occupant of this room. Leaving only to buy my vegetables and my soap. Every Thursday. I Leave just as the lamps are lit out on the streets and follow them to where the grocers is. He is usually just closing at this time so will often give me discounted vegetables. It is at this time, during the summer, that the moths appear also, hence I am known as The Moth man. Once I have bought my Vegetables I then go back to my room but first I have to climb up to the first floor where I knock on the door of the lady who makes my soaps. Such colours and scents. I know not how she makes it, I believe it is the dying breath of magic that she must have inherited from her mother. It is said that all the queens of europe have sent messengers up those steps demanding boxes of her soaps but her policy is one bar per customer. So I climb the steps, knock on the door and await the answer. It is always the same. Soft footsteps, growing louder as they reach the long slender and ornate handle and then the face of an old woman who looks out with a look of enquiry. She recognises me straight away calling me by my nickname of the moth and asking of my health. I always take of my hat too her and give her the same answer, that I can still remember beautiful names to beautiful faces so I must be doing better than some. She always laughs, gives me a bar of soap wrapped in the finest of paper whilst holding out her other hand in which I drop her payment and she smiles. I then say ‘Farewell Lorna’ and she laughs some more. I retreat back to my hole in the wall, my room. There I place my groceries on my wooden table and hold the soap in my hand. I can smell its magic through the paper. It gives me the same feeling that I got when my Papa gave me permission to see the carnival when I was a boy, When I was known by real name, not as The moth. I walk to the cupboard that has been built into the wall and I place the treasure in there with all of her hundreds of sisters. That cupboard is my heaven and Lorna is my angel.


I am alone at night. On a ship with christian men with no virtues. We lay with one another at night for quick moments of release and then it is back to our lonely beds. When we dock there are no talk of these moments, we go straight for the women who we make think are the first to make our hearts melt. Then it is back to sea and back to one another and our loneliness. I lay in my bunk at night and think of many things in my isolation. The edge of the stars, the end of an echo, the birth of a son, my birth. Sometimes when we are following warm weather I open my port window and a slight breeze will come in and blow my hair from my fringe like my mother used to brush it away when I was a boy. I will never have a son. I have no need for a wife, I find no love in the bosoms of women. There is no hope for me. I fall in love with those who are never willing to return it. I am the North pole in love with the South. Forever running after it but never reaching it. Sending my compass in turmoil and my only therapy is to hold the fellows on this ship when ever I can. Then when we port, I find a girl who is willing to drink herself to sleep, and I lay beside her, drunken and tearful and that is that. Except at Lamoux. My home town. When we reach Lamoux I am the first off this vessel of broken hearts and I run all the way to the part of the town where the streets are still unguarded by the sentries of electric lamps and I find a cafe where the most beautiful angel sings his songs in the corner. His songs are great hymns of Lions and soldiers and Sons that suffer great trials. I buy wine for all and eat great plates of Spaghetti whose equal have never tasted. Not even in the ports of Sicily or Naples. There are never any of my fellow sailors there as they run to another cafe, one in which there is a dancer of great repute, dressed in pink and of amazing beauty. I have never seen her, for my mind and heart lead me straight to the dark man and his guitar. The one which they call Trabeque.


All my life I have been making soap. That which cleanses the dirt from the hands of the people. I find now that the soap has become so embedded into my hands that they no longer get dirty. The dirt of the city seems to roll straight from them. I have the hands of a Sixteen year old. I am Sixty One. There have been many requests for my soap. From Royalty passing through the city on business of state to Paupers dying on the street below my room. I have always only sold one bar at one time to any person, and my price has never altered for that person. I decide on what the price shall be on their first visit. For the Queen of Spain I asked for a title. And I received it. Every time she returned I asked for same thing until I was given the title of an honorary Princess of Spain. I have never seen her since, as no doubt she did not want to give up the title that she was in custody of. There has only been one time that I have given a bar of my soap away. This was to a woman, a mother and a pauper. She had travelled far, for her son, she said, had disappeared. She said that the village in which she lived was in ruin since her son had left. I asked her why he had left. She looked down with great shame and said that the village people had stopped him from visiting the church, and from that moment great tragedies had occurred. She seemed to believe and put across to me that all the villages indeed believed that God was punishing them for such a callous act. I agreed that it was indeed a callous act, and asked her how she intended to find her son. The woman did not know and looked away sadly as she told me that she had followed him to Lamoux and then his trail had grown cold with the winter. I gave this woman who was close to death on my doorstep a bath and some soup. I then sent her on her way with a much larger aura of hope circling what would have been a once very pretty head. The next day the pauper was back on my doorstep I asked her what it was that she wanted. She told me that as she had a husband and three other sons to attend to she was returning to her village. She then said something which I have never forgotten. She said that Her son, the lost one, would often sing songs in the church, of great myths and subjects, like lions and Soldiers and Babies in gold Towers. She told me that if i was to ever hear a song like this song by a handsome boy with dark features, to tell him that his mother came looking for him and that I, Lorna, was kind to her. I gave this woman a bar of soap, telling her to only use it on the boys birthday and that I would keep my eyes sharply searching for this young troubadour. She then left, trailing the scent of roses as she walked. I have since heard this man sing. He is no longer a lost boy but a grown man, I go to the cafe in which he sings and listen to his graceful words. I knew it was him from his dark features and the songs of Lions, soldiers and Babies in Golden towers. I have never told him of his mother’s visit. instead I think of my own child. my Daughter.

ANNETTE I dance in Cafe Babel. It is empty during the day. This is when the sun is shining and the people are busy trying not to catch their own deaths. Or it is just too cold. But then at night at nine. The tambourine starts shaking and the curtain is drawn and the men are drunk and I kick my legs high. Dressed in my home made dresses, smelling of scent, with roses in my hair. They call me the dancing rose. I dance for one hour. trying no to notice the pain in the heels of my bare feet. Then I have one hour off. and I go on again for another hour. When I dance I find the strangest thoughts flow through my mind. Of ships being wrecked, of forests growing, of churches burning.


~ by yesknow on July 30, 2010.

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