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Fotini Kaimaki for THE WING OF THE JOURNEY

I prepared bread and poppy seeds for you
the voyage of Apulia and Calabria
it is long, it can be bitter.

Tour trip, pilgrimage trip, not tourism. To discover day by day the space, the people, the monuments, to leave behind time, the frenetic reality, which without knowing redemption ruthlessly demands to go towards the timeless, after all, this is also the work of a Saint.

Saturday, November 12, 1994 , the wing of the journey hits me on the shoulder and carves long roads of silence for me. “An hour after midnight we arrived at Bivongi. The village sleeps between the mountains and next to it the river, Stilaros, is awake. Some people are waiting for us with their coats half thrown on their shoulders, sleepy and they lead us to an old half-ruined house to sleep. The first difficulty hits me in the back. I understand that I have to arm myself with a good mood, patience and adaptability. My purpose is to get to know this poor, thousands-tormented but also so rich in memories place, even with sufferings. The conditions at home are more than bad. The panes in the windows and doors are broken, the cold air comes in freely, whistling in my ear and not allowing me to remove any of my clothes. I dream of my warm evening bath. But waiting for the stranger who is waiting for me gives me courage to endure the difficult night. The owl and the owl, the animals that cry, come to accompany me and slowly I feel a strange warmth". I felt this warmth in the homeless Ai-Yiannis the Reaper, when the icy wind was blowing and the birds were singing in a sideways sound "oh my sweet ear", in the uprooted houses of Rohoudi that are collapsing into the river and in the obituary of grandmother Loukias.

I was showered with light by the sparkling Ionian Sea, the Locroes and the ancient poetess Nossides, light and the wine that the poet Agostino Siviglia treated me to in the eagle's nest of Bois. The bottle said Fengari and I felt the bright moon roll on my tongue.

Monday, October 10, 2005 . In this season of autumn, Salento lives the exquisite illusions of time. It is raining today. The wind blows in a place full of memories. A pleasant harmony between the soil and the water, the stone and the olive tree, in the set of concepts lined up around me. I would like to think, the ticking of the rain won't let me. My chance encounters and calculated ones weave the pattern of each day. I read in Professor Fonseca's book about a Madonna del Carmine (Our Lady of the Song) and from that moment it has stuck in my mind like the found leaf on the glass... "...The ground of the crypt is earthy and very uneven full of open graves. Here are the bones beyond. But my eyes race here and there in the semi-darkness on the rocky walls, looking for the Virgin of the song, she cannot but exist. I can already hear her song. The rain has picked up and comes down here like a tender, soft hum of song. A skull at my feet distracts me, tries to tell me the song of final peace, how many deaths this earth has experienced. It turns something equal to memory, not to be lost. Look there to your right on the rock, he tells me, the color and shape of eternity that redeems. Yes, it is the Virgin Mary who sings. She is standing, one hand is resting on her chest, with the other she is weighing something, certainly her spine, but the humidity ate it. The face, this rose is pure, youthful, virginal, modest, sweet. What is called truth in art, if it exists, is this face. She is small, she is a little afraid, Angel is next to her, what will he say to her. She accepts the message, humbly bows her head. Now her song reaches my ears. It transcends description, transcends sunshine and rain. The world is fake but this is as real as the sound of a cherry blossom, as the breath of the wind that stays awake at night, as the fugues of words on paper.

I'm groping my way out of the crypt and the rain is drumming in a tsingo."

"...The days, the nights, the hours, the drunken mornings, the Masseria Sant Angelo and the larks pass in a glittering line. Shaggy tarantatas flutter, the olive grove squeals, the taborello calls me. Logic is thrown aside, in the Castle of Corigliano Quarema roams and the siacuddi measures the oil and the worker's heavy breathing. The charcoal burners in Kalimera sing the Marseillaise and Ernesto comforts Patroklia. In Fotera, Salvatore with the slingshot hunts the birds and Franco Corlianò, thelo na mbriakeftò na mi' pensèfso ( I want to get drunk so I don't think ) sings. You can't help but shout "CLOHEI ZIS" ("listen, Zeus"), as the inscriptions on Roca peel off from the rocks, chasing you, terrorizing you.

"When the memory is full" says Emily Dickinson "put a tight lid on it".

The wing of the journey is broken, it gathers its pieces and follows me. "The journey is like light" he tells me "when it ends you ask for it". Remember, Lord of Your winged servant…”

A journey is this book, a journey that never ends, because in reality no journey ever ends. The journey has wings and is always running behind you.


With the wing of travel
The diaries of Apulia and Calabria 1994-2015: Persons, monuments, language, popular culture
Fotini Kaimaki