I don’t know how long I have been running.
I am aching all over. I don’t even know these places and
I’ve never ever seen these trees before.
The bush with the sweet blackberries, the one I have just ransacked, it’s new to me.
I’ m staying hidden here for a short while to catch back my breath.
They are mad at me and I don’t know what they want, but I know that I must not let them take me.
How long will this escape continue? But, above all, where are they now? I can’t take anymore. I’ll sleep here for a little while, just under this bush, right here.
The old one found the small asleep. She remained for a long time looking at him, sensing his fear, his fatigue and his bewilderment. She caressed him, as she knew how to do it; then carefully dragged him up, without shaking, toward a safe shelter. The small one was sleeping so soundly that he didn’t even realize he wasn’t alone anymore. The old one chewed some refreshing grass to make a hot pack for his sore muscles; she laid branches of dried fern and managed to carry him up to the new bed. Then she waited. She watched him sleeping while remembering when she had her own children around her. She thought of their continuous requests and demands: food, care, attention, arbitrage in frequent quarrels between siblings.
Are those white and bright pink rags up there clouds?
Or are they down, below me, and I’m flying?
I feel light and quiet, yet I sense I should not feel like that, I should actually feel alarmed but I don’t remember for what reason anymore.
A light breeze makes the leaves of certain trees singing.
I used to know their name, once.
No, not really though someone repeated it to me every time: listen to the leaves of… how was that name?
The name was ‘Tremolo’. Who told me so?
I’ll call you Tremolo because you’re a little wimp; because you’re shaking with emotion at the beauty of water, because something in you plays as the leaves of the tremulous poplar.
Mother. Yes, my mother gave me this name.
The old one saw that the little stirred and approached, then laid down beside him, until he fell into a healing sleep. Then she looked for something to drink and eat, because it would have been a total awakening: of the body, of the wounds, of fear and pain.
The night came silent and gentle and spread its velvet cloak over the forest. In complete silence of plants and animals, the old one began to think, “I could keep him with me. I can teach him the law. I could make him a leader. I could…”. She felt restored, relieved and light, as if the herbal hot pack had been made for her. The presence of the little, defenseless one, boy that made her feel useful again.
The little one opened his eyes and looked at her.
I don’t understand.
But … where am I?
Whose eyes are those that are looking at me? Almond-shaped and thin…
Don’t trust thin eyes, my mother once told me.
“Look how he’s shaking… I feel his fear, I can smell it. If I touched him, I’d get it directly from him. What’s happening to me now? I am no longer myself”.
The old one was still laying a little closer to the little one, to warm him up, to calm him down, to protect him.
From time to time she made a new mix of chewed herbs for the hot pack; occasionally searched for softer roots and put them close to him so that wouldn’t have to move too much to take them.
Then she walked away.
She’s gone .
I may start to run, but I don’t know where I am.
I don’t know in which direction I have to run .
She warmed me up, she fed me, but I don’t understand why I feel so uneasy.
The hunger has subsided. I’m not so sore .
Perhaps this is a new home. The place to start my life as in the past.
In the past! I am young!
I don’t see other young people around here.
There’s just this old … one? Yes, maybe she’s an old one, but she has something that I like.
If only she hadn’t those eyes …
Yet they are not bad. I feel I should fear them, however I still watch them to see them in the deep where they aren’t as subtle and disturbing as in the surface.
I noticed that she looks at me when I eat the roots that she gives me . Maybe I eat too fast? Should I chew with my mouth more shut? But she doesn’t look at me harshly though, it seems to me she’s rather curious,; as if she had never seen one like me. Yet we were so many , an entire village ! Who knows where they all are? … Everybody was running away when I took the path. Will I ever find someone else ?
It’s useless to get melancholic, even mommy would say that. My belly is full, nothing is broken, I’ve got a good companion . What else do I need?
The puppy is finally getting more familiar with me and has regained his strength. He’ll grow well. He’s brave and trusts me Bbut he’s so funny! He starts shaking at nothing , even if though he manages to calm down quickly. He’s shaking, at times, like the leaves of the Tremolo.
Last night, with the sky all red at sunset, he sang a song. I had never heard a puppy of any kind singing like that: sweet, sad and at the same time. A song that talked about destiny. I can hardly imagine how he knows it. I’m really enjoying being with this little one, he amuses me. Then he asked me to sing him something and I could not think of anything. Digging into the memories of days gone by, I eventually found a sort of a game that I used to play with my little ones, a game of repetition. He liked it and he kept repeating after me, though it was done in such a strange way, full of high-pitched sounds…
Then we explored around: I showed him the bushes and trees near where we sleep. He saw the other blackberries, he’s fond of them. His appetite for blackberries seemed fresh and youthful to me. And… clean? Maybe innocent.
I don’t know what it actually was like, but I waited for him to be asleep and then I went looking for a bite to eat.
And then it happened.
The idea of my teeth which were no longer that strong now, was another sign of a time that flew away. Perhaps it was the idea of hunger, not as sharp as it once was, or it was the memory of waiting for food and chewing slowly, which was real heartache… (And this little one is now trying to eat slowly so as not to appear greedy: what a classy education that shows!).
Something in me moved, it suddenly ignited me.
Then I attacked him, as fast as I used to do once, and as deadly as ever. I grabbed him by the throat, facing his reproachful look. These things happen my friend… That’s life .
I feel again like I used to be.
I’m not a mother anymore, I’m too old for these affectations.
I’m but a red fox, a survivor.
You can’t rebel against you own nature.
(Falstaff – Henry IV – Shakespeare)
Translation by Amneris Di Cesare (edited by Sabrina Macchi)