Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Love Song for Antonio Pigafetta, Ferdinand Magellan's Chronicler

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Love Song for Antonio Pigafetta, Ferdinand Magellan's Chronicler

Article excerpt

"the longest and most valuable narrative of the voyage was written by a young Italian who was neither a professional seaman nor a humanist."

-R, A. Skelton, Introduction to Magellan's Voyage: A Narrative Account of the First Circumnavigation

I consider you a forefather, Tony, even though you were

from Venice, and your beard held the aroma

of gondolas passing through a canal. Still, I tell people

you were my great, great grandfather's grandfather.

I always wanted to be Italian. When we lived in Europe,

my dad would toss our sleeping bodies in the back seat

of a Honda Accord in the dead of night to drive

the 600 kilometers to Vicenza and buy porcelain figurines

from a man named Guillermo. We'd sell them

to the Filipino ladies in Germany who wanted to decorate

their military base apartments like palazzos. Tony, did you

grow up in a palazzo or a basilica? When I say

these words, I don't know what they mean. I only know

what I imagine they mean. I imagine

a castle made of bones, I imagine a large pointer

bounding through a bustling market, I imagine

that you are my ancient ancestor. …

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