I have a clear memory of Florence and of Dante’s house, of cool,
geometric rooms, a stillness like a finished manuscript, a silent cascade of stone stairs;
and of Venice, city of cats, pigeons, violins, a dead rabbit in a canal.
As a child, I had an oft-repeated dream: I am floating swiftly
on a street of water through a stone town. There are high castle walls
with blue windows of sky going past. Always, at the end,
I am swept out into a lake, exhausted, exhilarated.
When I was thirty-three, I saw this exact town in photographs in a National Geographic
It was called Sirmione, on Lake Garda in northern Italy, in the shadow of the Alps.
Using our savings, my young wife and I went there to see it. The castle
was called the Scaligera. There were small, tight shops with marionettes,
pergolas filled with uncountable roses, tall black cypresses, ancient olive groves
with long silvery greases, and at the end of the needle of Sirmione, unexpected,
the molten, sugary ruins of the summer villa of the poet Catullus.
For three days, we walked, drank wine, make love, bought presents for our daughter
back to the states. We had an incredible longing to hold her, and flew home.
A year later, our marriage was at an end.
Exhausted, my life began.
© The Estate of Sandford Lyne