in search of Marsa Allah
“Where did you go? We were worried about you!” My Aunt Vittina thought something had happened to me out in the streets of Palermo. And indeed it had. I witnessed my birth in an ancient bodega, filled with Marsala and surrounded by the midwives of Palermo. I was too invigorated to even speak; she must have seen the look on my face. “Thank God you are alright, if anything had ever happened to you, I don’t know what I would tell Alfonso and Giulia.”
I would slip out again and again. And for the next moments, months, years even, I would go back into that delivery room in the quiet little alley, filtered with shade and sunlight, and sit there, listening to the barrels tell me their history.
On these little streets I wasn’t invisible anymore – they were staring at me. Why? What have I done, other than to land in their territory? Little did I know the real reason back then. Now from the tunnel of time it is a little clearer.
The wine – will I ever get back in there to taste from those barrels? Or maybe the question is – will I ever get out?
I saw those words Oro, Ambra, Fine, Superiore, Vecchio, Vergine, Mandorlato, Secco, Dolce and others. Zibibbo. Riserva. Storica. Hard to determine as they were written in a script almost like calligraphy. Cryptic, exotic, forbidden.
I would spend a good ten years as an apprentice to the invisible master, but the mere smell of that room, with exotic spices, flavors, smells, filled me with a knowing that I couldn’t imagine in words. It was beyond the visceral, right to the molecular, like a spear to the side.
Not an easy thing in the Palermo of post-Moor Sicily. This place still rang the bells of the Jesus' God and Muhammad's Allah, calling their chosen ones to prayer.
Still, I must plod ahead. No time to think, the precious liquid has been cast upon the inner inferno. I must keep walking, taking pictures, staying awake, becoming alive. I am on fire, burning with the sun of August.
Must not fall. Must not sleep. Must not stop.
...to be continued