Poetry and Painting in Ponsacco

We arrived in Pontedera, Italy via train. Then, took a cab from to Ponsacco just a half hour from Pisa where my friend Daphne Stevens Pascucci runs an Art and English School called Arcadia Art Studio. The tiny village has just a few public eateries and one slightly abandoned village square with its own leaning tower (of Pisa) beside an ancient church. We were famished from our travels, but could only find pastries and coffee which we ate and drank. We sat under umbrellas, catching up with Daphne, whom I met thirty-eight years ago when we both worked at the Julliard School in NYC. This reunion was a long time in the making.

The town square in Ponsacco


Zena and I spent the afternoon painting in Daphne’s studio getting sage advice about the best way to contrast light and dark with oils and we finished our day at a local pizzeria talking well into the night.

Zena Marpet, Joy Rose, Daphne Stevens

Yesterday I was determined to go to Casciana Terme, where the thermal pools are rumored to have healing properties. We navigated the short bus ride in broken Italian, using animated hand signals, and waving our maps in the air. A short walk from the bus, the town square opened before us like so many of these villages, organized with cobbled stones, a pedestrian thoroughfare, a large church, and several shops. Zena waited for me to swim, sipping cappuccino and writing humorous  poems which I am happy to share with you here. 

ZENA’S POEMS


Trip of a Lifetime

Small Italian square. 

Cigarette smoke fills the air. 

Church bells on the hour. 

Across the way a leaning tower. 

Many cappuccinos, but not past two. 

Because the Italians thinks that it is shrew. 

The Tuscan sun is hot like fuel. 

The Tuscan moon is bright but cool. 

Cypress trees, there is no breeze. 

Back in London they eat a lot of peas. 

Pasta fills me up. 

Too much salt (says my mother), 

Can someone pour more proseco in her cup? 

Campari and soda and a lot of yoga. 

This so far has been the trip of trips. 

And, back in England they call fries crisps.

The poet at work!



Food for my Mother

Pizza with cheese. 

More pasta please. 

Red meat and truffles. 

How much can I fit in my duffel? 

Steak every night. 

Salads are rare. 

Oh, no- could I be having a flare?

My ankles are swollen and my stomach hurts. 

Could it be true, I don’t want dessert? 

This puts me in the worst mood. 

Am I the only person who can’t eat Italian food? 

I’m desperate. 

It feels like the final hour. 

I cooked up some bone broth, but even that tastes sour. 

I am used to having kale and juice. 

Okay body, I call a truce. 

This puts me in the worst mood! 

Am I the only person who can’t eat Italian food?

I’m desperate. 

It feels like the final hour. 

I need more food with a lot less flour. 

I am hurt. 

I feel I am no use. 

Okay body, I call a truce. 

Maybe just a little less cheese? 

And more fresh fruit I can squeeze?

Chick peas and yogurt- the pain is now less overt. 

My swelling goes down and that’s the end of my frown. 

I think I’ll go swim nude. 

But one thing is for certain-

I cannot eat Italian food.

Mom’s swollen feet elevated on train

I hope you’ll tune in from time to time as I share bits and pieces of the next 45 day journey that will take me from NYC, to London, to Italy, to Scotland. 

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One response to “Poetry and Painting in Ponsacco

  1. Daphne Stevens

    Zena I think you meant ” chips” which rhymes with trips instead of crisps! French fries are chips in uk. Lovely bouncy poems though! Xx Daphne

    Liked by 1 person

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