In today’s edition of Plume Service Vol. 1, you’ll read different stories inspired by the same painting.
The Olive Branch and Stone
by Zoë Lindstrom (aka Countess Zoëlla Germaine)
Yesterday you were our enemy.
We rolled our hearts
with the old sea–
the nets yielding unspoken things.
Ochre sun and stone,
such strangers you became–
the church bells chime,
olives and grapes and girls are crushed
Too rich a lie, too small and shrill and bustle–
Welcome to shore
my ghost captain,
though you belong only
to the line
between sea and sky.
A View of Venice
by Alexa Hollywood (aka Madam Odohata)
As an old woman, I live as much in my reveries as my real life. Venice . . . a friend once called it a beautiful city and an open sewage system. I remember Venice, indistinct, as if in a haze.
In this painting, I see the ship, Venice as a major power, a crossroads of civilization. And I remember the Doge’s palace. I remember all of the Hieronymus Bosch paintings. One of the most powerful men in the world collected and contemplated visions of Hell.
I walked the narrow sidewalks along the canals, crossed the tiny bridges. For the uninitiated, it was a maze to get lost in, briefly recover, and get lost again. The sidewalks were wet, sometimes with dog poop, sometimes not.
I was with two Jews. They did not want to visit churches. I understood. I also understood the Renaissance and earlier about art in churches. I missed so much. But I reveled in modern-day Venice.
But I reveled in modern-day Venice. The Venetians could be rude. We jumped on a water taxi. The operator closed the gate as someone tried to jump on. One Venetian began to argue with another Venetian about civility. Drifting down the canals, we could see the magnificent palaces. Now, I wish I had visited Peggy Guggenheim’s palace. It seems visual art is a recessing gene in me that has emerged in old age.
And so this is Venice, to me, an old woman and a diarist. And the old woman notes the artist’s lifeline: 1870 to 1906. Child, what could you have become?
Here’s one more inspired by a more zoomed-in Bondietti painting of Venice’s canal shoreline:
by Aimee Sellon (aka Salvadora Hemisphere)
Venice is sinking, you know!
And yet so much has remained
happy bird stalking tourists,
children refusing to end their play,
young ladies deep in conversation,
ocean wind and a pleasant salty scent
with the hint of fresh fish.
Although the sun shines,
the air is cold. But this place is
warmth. The buildings are
kind, the water is
honest, the stone streets
remember your face, the wind
knows when you are feeling
sad, and will gently touch your hand
until you are feeling better.