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On Avoiding Stendhal Syndrome
by
Ellaraine Lockie


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—A psychosomatic illness causing fainting, heart palpitations, confusion, hallucinations, amnesia or madness from sensory overload, 
especially in Florence museums, where about twelve cases occur every year

 It's easy to omit museums
When doppios and Perugino chocolates
slide down like liquid silk
And Italian words in coffee shops caress sound waves
into a massage that starts at the tip of your toes
Where born-again feet have been converted to baby soft 
by the finest leather sandals from a street stall 

The clop-clop of hooves hitting 
cobbled streets quickens the heartbeat
Each church bell chime climbs the ladder of your spine
And the strings on a street mandolin
tie you up in ancient bondage with Botticelli
Dante and Da Vinci

It's Michelangelo though 
responsible for your labored breathing
Because you've just run your hand up David's
marbled leg muscle in the piazza around the corner
And you can still feel the flush spreading 
from palm to pelvis

But you can't linger in the longing
because another kind of hunger leads you
by the nose to a next-door trattoria
To crostini, filet mignon with porcini and truffle sauce
parmigiano risotto, tiramisu and two glasses of Brunello
Over which you start talking to Puccini, Verdi and Rossini

Soon you are seeing with x-ray transparency
the tight Tuscan sunned bodies brushed with olive oil
bursting their Prada, Armani, Gucci and Fendi restraints
And with weakened knees and winged head
you try to rise to return to your hotel 
Or was it a hostel or a houseboat or a B & B 
Maybe that remodeled convent you considered . . .

From Stroking David's Leg (Foothills Publishing, 2009).
Used here with the author's permission.

 

Purchase a framed print of this poem.


Ellaraine Lockie is a widely published and awarded author of poetry, nonfiction books and essays.  Her collection, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publication’s Chapbook Contest and was published in early 2015.  Other recent work has been awarded the 2013 Women’s National Book Association’s Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David's Leg, winner of the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest for Red for the Funeral and The Aurorean's Chapbook Spring Pick for Wild as in Familiar. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh. She is currently judging the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contests for Winning Writers. A resident of Sunnyvale, California, Ellaraine is also a professional papermaker who has worked with community projects in that capacity in South Africa and for various U. S. businesses. A video featuring her poetry, handmade papers, and handbound books can be seen here

 


Post New Comment:
rhonasheridan:
The more I read it the better it gets.
Posted 11/15/2014 01:02 AM
erinsnana:
I've been to Tuscany, and you brought me back!
Posted 11/06/2014 11:16 AM
Cindy:
I love this.
Posted 11/05/2014 09:49 AM
Dorcas:
Ha, the power of suggestion
Posted 11/05/2014 09:02 AM
mimi:
sweet and tasty poem, Ellaraine!
Posted 11/05/2014 07:13 AM


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