Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Limbo

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Limbo

Article excerpt

LIMBO

One afternoon this summer in Assisi I stood where experts stood a few weeks later craning their necks to estimate quake damage to the Church of St. Francis' frescoed vault when it collapsed in an aftershock and crushed them. As pains shot through my stiff neck, I complained, Why paint a masterpiece it hurts to look at? To ease a tingling nerve, I leaned way back like a Calypso dancer slipping under the Limbo stick his grinning partners lower.

All at once, I wasn't in Assisi near the end of the Second Millennium checking out eight hundred year old art by masters of the Early Renaissance soon to become a pile of bloody plaster.

I fell through a crack in my consciousness and landed, drunk, at a party in the 'sixties. "How looow can you gooo," sang Harry Bellafonte on the stereo while my friends clapped their hands as I tried to bob under the broom handle.

I flexed my knees and spread my feet apart until I teetered on the edge of balance, but the broomstick hovered way too low for me to slide my heaving chest beneath it, so I fell backwards on the green shag carpet and lay there panting while the ceiling spun. "You're doomed to go to limbo when you die" called out a girl I loved more than champagne. Her rich voice mingled with the throbbing bongoes. She was a singer. When did I last see her? …

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