The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.
A Letter from the Red Thread Cafe
Lineage of Fire and Water Part 3 Firenze Florence
Ghosts of our Creative Ancestors
The footsteps of Michelangelo in the early morning
haunt me with echoing stones on the streets of Firenze.
He is returning home from working in the bones.
Last night I thought I heard Sue’s voice
in the darkened chamber
as he held the candle for her
so she could see the bodies clearly.
They sketched until dawn.
There is work to be done.
Commissions to finish.
He is a part of passing this legacy to me.
I have always known this.
There was a time when I was lost
and saved myself through spending
time with him in Florence in my mind,
now I am here.
Chills runs through me
as the pigeons nibble on my daily bread
and share my cafe.
Sue and I rowed again
along with my Love this time,
and Sue’s cat
in our cosmic boats
rowing through stardust
in the columned great rooms
of the Uffuzi, she pointed out to me, the muscles
on the arms of Mary in the Holy Family
saying Michelangelo knew what work She, Mary, had to do
to hold Him up – and Joseph’s strong hand
on the innocent chest passing him to his mother
was pointed out by the resident astronomer and artist,
showing us the intimacy, the humanity, the gravity.
Your only finished painting to survive…Doni Madonna.
Florence is filled with the ghosts of our creative ancestors
and I have cafe with them each day.
As we row past Botticelli’s Venus rising from her shell
I reject the story of her birth in myth and make up my own.
I have grown tired of stories where men give birth
from noses and scrotums –
can’t we at least be at cause for birth, gentlemen?
The feminine is expanded through her tilted head and gaze.
For me she is my Mona Lisa – something in her face
tells me show knows things that she will never reveal
but in moments of cafe with her she whispers to me
of birth, phallacy and possibility.
Botticelli waxed poetic about her,
as well as the 190 flower varieties in his Flora.
Was Flora the Goddess, Mary or both?
Yes is the answer, and Florence was named
after flowers – so many reasons to love this place.
Venus and Jupiter sit together having
champagne side by side in the sky,
laughing gaily at our folly.
I shudder thinking of the bonfire of the vanities
Botticelli burning his own paintings to be pure
and I give a silent nod of thanks to the Medici
for saving so much art, soul, humanity.
Not a conflict with my Christianity.
Mary’s eyes looking back at me from the Icons
tells me she has been here since the beginning
of the beginning – notice how she sees.
Don’t underestimate the Blessed Mother
or keep her trapped in an idea of man’s church.
Strolling through the Vassari corridor with my
13 friends we see hundreds of eyes gazing back,
portraits of artists with their brushes and palettes in hand
“The medieval calling card is a painting sent to the Medici”
My love quipped and took my hand as we stared into
the eyes of women painters making their way
in a man’s world – I tell them aloud
I see you sisters, I pray for you,
you are remembered.
I will pray for the Paintress Sister Nelli.
I am sorry about Florence’s invisible women artists
I am so glad to have met you now
and to enjoy your last supper with you.
I had a brief conversation with Brunelleschi about
the color of marble in the impossible duomo
at the 13th century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and
what it made me feel like and how the air in Florence
is that same color of pink peach majesty.
I gave thanks at his grave hidden deep within
the church until the early 70ies
how long he waited to be revealed there.
The two alternating colors chosen for
“rectitude and beauty” the two basic
principles of Florentine art always make me cry.
We had dinner with DaVinci and Artemisia
Just so I can hear them have a conversation about light
and line. We buy them dinner and
drift into the streets after midnight.
The muse is waiting for me on the corner
looking at me in the same way your portrait,
Artemisia looks back at us.
The smell of fresh pasta, leather and gelato
filling my senses to overflowing.
A personal renaissance floods my soul
as my own Vetruvian woman enters her sphere.
Counter clockwise 24 hours tick tock
counting down instead of counting up
after 700 years hands of time timing.
All of you, ghosts of our creative ancestors.
Named and unnamed.
I lit a candle for you at the foot of
Santa Maria’s flowery starred dome.
Your legacy lives on in me
and I will tell the others about you
and bring them with me
when I return.
~ Shiloh Sophia
“Pray for the Paintress” – Nun and Painter, Sour Plautilla Nelli (1524–1588)