saba-bolaghi

Paolina, dolce Paolina,
raggio di sole entrato nella mia
vita improvviso;
chi sei, che appena ti conosco e tremo
se mi sei presso? tu a cui ieri ancora
«Il suo nome – chiedevo – signorina?»;
e tu alzando su me gli occhi di sogno
rispondevi: «Paolina».

Che mi vorrebbe ad essere felice?
Una stanzetta, ma col fuoco acceso;
due tazzine, due piccole tazzine,
una per te, l’altra per me, Paolina;
e addolcire coi tuoi baci l’amaro
della bevanda. O mia piccina, ascolta;
non ti vedrò fra qualche giorno, io credo,
che di rado e di furto. E non vorresti
prima una volta, una sol volta, quello
che in un orecchio già ti dissi, e tu,
su me alzando una mano che nell’atto
fu di baci punita e ricoperta,
m’hai risposto «sfacciato»; e nel mio petto
nascondevi, ridendo, la testina.
Non vuoi, Paolina? Che di te un ricordo
serbi, sí dolce sí dolce, che il cuore
mi manchi pure nel ricordo, e sia
l’ultimo fiore che tra i vivi io colga?

Umberto Saba, L’ultimo Amore da il Canzoniere

a lotta words

It wasn’t like it was intentional. Honestly, that’s just how she was as a person, it was a default. Her go-to. Especially in unique or uncomfortable situations, it’s a good icebreaker and can get a laugh or two out of those around her. By god she didn’t think that it had become such a strong reflex. Or else she would have quit a long time ago. But here she was, staring down at the delicately made flower crown on her pillow.

Saba had accidentally flirted with a fey. She wasn’t sure what type it was- but she had tripped in front of her. With her sharp teeth and glimmering, expressionless eyes. Saba had let out a chuckle on reflex and smoothly grinned up at her while she said: “Guess I fell for you.”

The Fey stared at her before walking away and Saba picked herself and began to walk to class when she realized what she had done. Then she fell again. Her first god damn week in this death maze of a school and she had already fucked up. Saba had been doing alright too, she fed and played with the crows(or passively allowed them to mess with her hair and tug at her clothes while feeding them her leftover curry) and gave respectful head nods to those she passed whether fey or not. Saba had ruined every little thing that set her in the background and now she was standing in a deadly limelight.

But now, gently stroking soft petals of flowers she had never seen before, there was no going back to a subtle life. She carefully stowed the flower crown inside her desk drawer on top of a rarely worn silk scarf of hers. Slightly anxious, Saba put on her usual mug of steaming hot milk and honey along with an additional plastic spider ring. She locked her door and placed a chair under the knob.

The next morning Saba had been trying to decide if she should or shouldn’t wear the flower crown. She settled on should and was careful to take it off when the crows mused with her hair. 

But then she made another mistake while sitting in the rain under a pink stegosaurus umbrella. A boy stood outside of the literature building, staring out at the rain and holding loose pages of paper. Saba shouted out to him.

“Hey! You! The one dripping with good looks!-” he pointed to himself and tilted his head. Saba squinted to see if he was smiling. “Yeah! You want me to walk you to where you need to go?” She pointed to her umbrella and stood up when he nodded eagerly. 

Saba jogged to him, one hand holding the umbrella and the other held protectively over the crown on her head. She felt her stomach drop as she noticed the lack of a mouth and striking red and orange eyes that adorned his face. She gulped as she held the umbrella higher to accommodate his height.

“So good lookin’, where to?” She wished she would stop talking. “trying to find a place thats as hot as you?” She wished she was dead.

Most of all, Saba hated herself for sounding so calm and casual, her default persona now turning into a massive burden. The fey chuckled and his hair ruffled from a nonexistent breeze. He pointed towards the forest. Saba didn’t bother to stop the groan that escaped her throat.

“Really? Oh…ugh fuck. Yeah, ok. Ok fine ok here we go-nnnnngggghhhhhh fuck.”

She walked with him towards the towering trees, flinching when he pressed closer to her to avoid the rain. Saba stopped at the edge of the wood, looking at him expectantly. The fey did not step out from the umbrella. Saba stared at the dirt and then looked at him, trying to avoid staring at the glowing tattoos on his neck.

“Um…I’m going to uh…give you this…”

She put the flower crown inside of her shirt and handed him the umbrella, giving him a brief wave before sprinting to her room without any breaks. Saba arrived there soaked and shivering.

She emailed her professor telling him she wouldn’t be in class. There was a heart shaped stone on her pillow. The mug had a single lipstick stain on its side, forming a perfect pair of lips. Saba cleaned it out, took a shower and then took a nap. The flower crown and the rock rested inside her drawer on top of a rarely used silk scarf.

Saba woke up only a few hours later, she did her homework and studied for her finals. She made three mugs of milk with honey and added cinnamon. She left one mug on her desk and stepped outside of her dorm room with the other two in her hands. Her umbrella rested on the floor in front of her and on top of it was a sage smudge stick. Saba wasn’t quite sure what that meant but decided to take it as a gift and not a threat and put it in her drawer. 

In all honesty, Saba can’t remember the third time it happened and all she can recall is setting out three mugs and receiving twigs, a candle and a bottle of water. Each item was kept safe in her drawer, which now had it’s own iron key to keep her roommate out of it(Saba wasn’t sure if she was a fey or not but hid the key well regardless). 

But Saba remembers the fourth time she had caught the attention of a fey. She had just perfected a batch of baklava for her final, she had been offering it to the few brave souls on campus who would accept food from strangers. The fourth fey had approached Saba when she sat in her seat in class, staring down at the 5 remaining treats. The fey had asked for one and without looking up Saba had smoothly replied.

“Sure, you can tell me if they’re good. But I doubt they are sweeter than you-”

Saba was handing them a piece when she noticed the curling horns that twisted and framed the feys face. She kept the polite smile on her face while the fey held out their hand- palm up- and waited for her to dispense the treat. Saba’s fingers grazed against the curved claws of the fey as she set the treat into their palm. She rambled about the cooking process, how she was trying to perfect the recipe as the fey carefully ate the food. The class carried on slowly and dully, Saba found the fey’s uncanny black eyes focused on the container of baklava. Saba nudged the treats towards the fey. She was too frightened to meet their eyes again.

At the end of the day, the tupperware was returned to her in shreds along with a note that gave a thorough but gentle synopsis of her treat. At the end of it, was a ‘$’ followed by the word ‘hair’. She tried not to shudder as she realized this accidental deal and the implications of following through with this request. To keep her mind off it it, she went into town.

Saba bought half and half that day and stocked up on honey. She passed by a Claire’s and ventured inside with a soft smile. That night she set out four mugs, a lock of hair, and several hair ties and earrings. When Saba woke up, her hair was neatly braided and tied with a cotton ribbon. She wore it for two days before putting the ribbon in her drawer.

It wasn’t for another month that Saba was one of the feys face to face again. She hadn’t forgotten the fey’s glittering eyes and sharp teeth but with a smile they were much less terrifying and glinted with a friendly warmth. The next week, early in the morning, Saba walked from the edge of a forest to the door of a building with the fey who’s hot hands warmed hers. There was a blank day in her memory where all that Saba remembers is waking up in bed, the smell of crayons and the gentle caress of feathers on her cheek as she fell asleep. Only three days ago Saba chose to sit next to a hulking shadowy figure whose horns curled tightly and cheeks glowed.

Saba’s days and months passed easier, she would write home about new friends and frequently went to craft and antique stores. There were always gifts, Saba would find them outside her room, in her backpack, sometimes in her clothes or even on her person. She would keep her eyes open for tiny things to give; a packet of seeds on the open book of a sharp-teethed girl sleeping in the library, a piece of coal at the edge of the forest, things that she falls asleep holding and wakes up to find her hands grasping at air, ladybug barrettes left on the windowsill of a slow classroom. Sometimes Saba would gift them nonmaterial things. A story, a listening ear, a whisper, a french braid, a tune, a met promise, a praise, an acknowledgment.

One day while restocking on dairy and honey, Saba returned with a large iron chest and cleaned her drawer- which had become full with gifts- only to find the silk scarf, one she rarely wore, absent.

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Terrified Angels

Terrified by Childish Gambino vs. Angels by Chance The Rapper feat. Saba.

7

I’ve been a fan since I could remember. I always try to make art of things that I appreciated growing up. Once I realized the new movie was coming out, I figured it’d be a good series to pursue. I did the white ranger because I knew someone would give me a hard time for not including him.