Academic journal article Chicago Review

Cold-Water Flats

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Cold-Water Flats

Article excerpt

Laudate sie, Signore mio, per sor' Aqua la quella e molt' utile e umile e prezios' e casta.

-Francis of Assisi

From landing to landing, black-stockinged, white threads in a knot, one woman hits at forte the scale from diaphragm to larynx. Italian saws the cold air like a peddler throwing a dog-Latin curse over one shoulder, one fierce note through our building's vast, indefinite rumor. -Guagliu! (her grandson) Vien'a cca, viena pranza! By the light of one dangling bulb, at their kitchen tables, each student grinds at history, mathematics, courtly love... The zinc-lidded bathtubs in their kitchens swarm with gravid, amber-bellied roaches. From across the court a Saturday Met broadcast fails to make one chord of twenty cold-water flats.

Electricity: direct current; water-closets on the landing. Every May, the grandson himself comes by with a white-papered can for "The Bride of Saint Francis.' I've seen the grandfather sweep his cash register clean for just such another cantwo plastic-corded fratelli. He it was chewed me out when I coolly bought his "ground pet meat. …

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