Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (Agee and Walker, 1941)

This week I have chosen to write a creative piece in the style of James Agee and Walker Evans:

The light in this bedroom comes from the one window that occupies the left hand side of the front wall. The reflection in its glass is from the bright sun, the kind of sun that shines on a day like today. Today is a warm summer’s day, with still and silent air filtering in to the bedroom through that one window. The two rectangular flowerpots in the window are holding red geraniums. Did I put them there? No. It must have been the person who lives here. The silence breaks only when a tractor goes by the side gate, holding a stack of rolled hay on its back, or the birds chirp because it is morning. I am sat on the bed facing the window, breathing in the clear country air. So clear.

The window overlooks the front garden. I can see the cat roaming around the three trees that are so precisely positioned; it is almost like a painting. Sharing this countrified heavenly air are two other such families: the Del Federico’s, with their children Daniela and Davide, and the Italian Carlo, with his with American wife Cindy, and I reach them thus:

Leave this room, cross the hallway that is big enough to also function as a study, pass the bathroom and go down the stairway that divides the house precisely in to two parts. Walk out the door at the bottom of the stairs (it is a converted farmhouse), and cross the garden to reach the carport. Proceed down the white, dusty driveway (there are olive trees on both sides) and go through the gate. Do not worry about the dogs yapping, they do that to every passer-by. Do not take the path to the right, as that will lead you to a dead end, and you will lose yourself in the overgrown fields surrounded by trees, and, as it is summer, full of snakes.

No, instead, go to the left. A quarter of a mile down the road, past the water fountain (which the women used to use to wash their clothes), there is a house that looks like it belongs in the film Roma, Città Aperta, in that typical Italian style . The house worships the sun, and the sun reciprocates this by radiating off every corner of it. The shed: is in ruins after the lightning struck it; the pool: has turned green because of neglect; the wooden doghouse: silent.

Past their house, through the bushes and brambles, is a foot path beyond which is the Del Federico’s house. Daniela and Davide are playing in the garden, the former tall and thin, and the latter short and wearing braces. In the background: their house, or rather their parents’. It is covered in ivy, but the ivy is beautiful. It complements the shade of yellow, which covers the house from back to front. I feel calm. This is where I am, this is what I perceive.


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