Saturday, 8 May 2021

My body changing: a creative reshaping

 In the past two years, or just before the lockdown, my body changed. At first I thought that it was temporary and that I just needed to lose two-three kilos to go back to my usual shape. But then my thoughts proved to be wrong. Apart from the almost impossible achievement of losing weight (even a few kilos), my face became puffier, my waistline disappeared and my back hunched. This is also due to the fact that I suffer from serious osteoporosis which also causes backpain. Besides, my diabetes conditions have worsened as bit, though I am not taking any medication at the moment as I am trying to keep it under control with a diet monitored by the excellent nurse Emma. The weirdest change in my body happened to my hair. It is not white yet, just salt and pepper, but it became thinner and crispy. My hair used to be wavy and I straightened it easily, now there is no way to style it, though this suits my plump face. Needless to say, I had to buy new clothes simply because most of the old ones were too tight or didn’t fit my new shape. I must say I enjoyed it. It was good to renew my wardrobe with nice affordable clothes and I realised that I could still look fashionable. In winter I wore woollen trousers with an elastic waist band  or thick loose leggings. My tops were large blouses and cardigans or woollen dresses. Now I pay much more attention to accessories, such as earrings, bags and scarves. I always put lipstick on despite the face mask, and like to change, even at home. It is a way to cheer myself up, challenge the Covid isolation and restrictions and put up with ageing.

I have slowed down and dilute house chores and activities when I feel too tired. I say to myself that there is no hurry. On the other hand, I have much more time for reading and writing and I attend a lot of online events. Therefore, there are some positive sides. I only need to tune up my body and reorganise my routine accordingly. This new condition reshaped my creative side as well giving me new ideas especially in my creative writing work. The more I read (not just books but also online newspapers and magazines, such as The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The New Yorker and The Times, as well as blogs and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts), the more I feel inspired and willing to explore previously unknown arguments and authors. 

I am reading poetry extensively, not only the poetry collections I review, but also new poetry from magazines and journals such as Acumen, Ambit, Tears in the Fence and Poetry London. I am also a member of The Poetry Society so I receive regularly The Poetry Review and attend the launch online. As a consequence of all this reading, I write more poems and at a certain point I realised I am ready to put together a new collection by the end of the summer with new pieces about the pandemic and my favourite pieces about family and relationships, and food of course. This time some poems have a slightly more political slant as my interests shifted due to the recent events and protests such as the death of Sarah Everard and George Floyd and the change in the American presidency. I hope people will like them.

During winter time I mainly painted bare trees using black ink, felt pens, watercolour pencils and oil pastels. I also used other washable media such as inkblock and artbars. I played a lot with biros and make-up things such as nail polish, eye shadow and lipstick. In spring and summer I hope to experiment with flowers, eggs and blossoming trees. Being part of Woking Art Society ( ) gives me goals in my painting as members have the opportunity to exhibit their work online or in exhibitions when restrictions will ease. I also created more embroideries inspired by Margaret Atwood’s quotes and by the glass sculptures of Chihuly. The more I create, the more I find new projects to start which can be an article, reviewing a poetry collection I like, baking a cake, experimenting a new pasta recipe, or embroidering a poem for my granddaughter Violetta.

Here are some new poems:

A blessing

To Violetta

So sweet

so dear

unbelievably new.

Your chubby cheeks

and turned up nose

thin mouth

make me melt in tenderness.

Your determination to grow

gripping at your father’s finger

resting on your mother’s breast,

sleeping your sweet dreams,

streams of milk

in a world of strange noises

and familiar voices.

May you find your way through the maze,

little by little, step by step

at your pace,

amidst friendly faces.

May you see bright days and fog,

flowers withering and blooming,

opening to better futures.

A new me

My clothes adapt as a second skin

to my body,

receptive, ready to transform.

Flexible, they ease off my shape.

I gamble with the thick waistline 

and  the varicose veins,

camouflage bulges and flabby thighs

in loose attires.

My body in flux,

sensitive to arthritis and high blood pressure

diabetes 2 and back pains.

I learned to pause, do what I can

postpone what I can’t.

The stages of aging, endless mutation,

replicating and changing

the message of my mother and my grandmothers.

They are beautiful as ever.

They say, age gracefully 

match clothes’ colours to the seasons

like elderly Japanese ladies:

auburn for autumn, snow white for winter,

sakura pink for spring and sky blue for summer.

I introduced some eccentricities,

mix and match bold earrings, three per ear,

big rings, heavy necklaces, always bright scarves.

Who will notice it? I will.

There’s nothing to lose

or to gain, just have fun,

being who I always wanted to be.

My mother

Last night I dreamed of my mother,

her soft light touch on my face.

She said, I had some free time and came here.

I was melting in her tenderness

under the touch of her smooth old fingers,

her cheerful voice moved,

almost in tears.

Why did you come here?

What happened?

But she didn’t reply,

only her love surrounded me

as if it was the last time.

And I drank it

with dry lips.

Meeting my grandmothers

  1. i. Conforta, from Cortona 

Her back is hunched down,

doubled over to sow, gather,

clean and scrub.

Her hands have blackened skin and twisted fingers,

but still she smiles

with scrutinising eyes.

Her long strong arms are forged to beat the laundry

and carry logs for the fire.

Seven children born, fed, immeasurably loved,

then lost, the boys,

not the girls, they were of a different cloth,

flexible and untameable,

like you.

  1. ii. Orsola, from Meta di Sorrento

Round like a demijohn,

she used to sing sentimental songs,

Torna a Surriento, O surdato ‘nnammurato, O sole mio,

with a well-tuned voice 

that resounded of the smooth waves of the Gulf of Naples.

But in her black eyebrows

there was the sharpness

of a steel determination

disguised in her soft arms

that kneaded the pasta dough

on the Formica surface of the table,

her gold bracelet clinking.

Almost illiterate,

she knew what the future held.

I was pregnant, I was full

The exam room was busy with students,

future gynaecologists,

I was surprised.

The professor told me to undress from waist down,

lie down on the bed, open my legs

and put my feet on the props.

He looked at my privates

and commented that I was more hairy than normal.

Then they examined the different parts of the vulva,

its size and colours,

they named the labia minora, labia majora, the perineum, urethra and clitoris,

which he touched with gloved fingers to let my vagina open more easily.

He thrusted a bivalve speculum to peruse the inside.

They didn’t identify any sores, genital warts or spots,

didn’t mention any particular smell and concluded 

I was all right on the whole.

Because of the examination, I was allowed a free scan.

Even then I could tell she was floating happily inside my belly,


You can begin the journey of life anew

You can start again for good

after the lockdown, 

plan to go back shopping 

in charity shops,

hunting for lucky picks

a pair of red shoes for £ 5

embroidery threads for 50 p

a china bowl for £ 2.

You can celebrate again in Italian restaurants with family,

luscious amatriciana, rich pizza with burrata and prosciutto,

indulging in tiramisu and sorbettos.

Hug your sons again and kiss your daughters,

finally cuddle your granddaughter.

Travel to Italy again,

caress your mother’s frail bones

her soft cheeks.

And swim once more

float in a large pool,

your body weightless, striving to reach the other side.

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