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Food of Ancient Rome

Italy is where I grew up and where I have based my thesis research and some of my human rights work.

My family comes from Umbria, where I spent most of my summers while I grew up, and where I return for a visit every time I am in Italy. This is one of my favorite photos. We used to hike there every summer. What can I tell you, somebody had to do it.

My memories of Umbria have prompted several poems. The one below is about a little window in our old house.

Behind the picture on the window 

 On the windowThat she didn’t need

She put a picture

Of a mother and her Child God

She prayed to them

With the other ladies

Sitting on strong chairs with straw seats

On the evenings when

The ascent to the Church

Seemed too long

She too had a son

Dear to her as I

Was to him

She never saw me

But she left for me

All that he taught me

To love

Jasmines and roses

On the old stone walls

Grapes reaching to the balcony

For me to taste

The church at the end of the long climb

Cypresses pairing up a steeper climb

At the end of the road

And above

The old gate and the crosses

And still statues of angels

Forever mourning.

And the people

Who talked and smiled to me

And touched my cheek


Because I have her eyes.

The tired ladies

Prayed to the Virgin

And her Child God

In the evenings

When the ascent

To the church seemed too long

I heard them in my bed

As the last light of the sun

On the back of old paper

Showed me the face of a mother and her son

Wishing peace

For me, just for me

And the ladies

Sent their prayers

Almost a chant

To a picture on a

Window nobody needed

And the girl inside

Went to sleep and an old man planned What to do

The next day

Simple, normal things

Gathering chestnuts

Walking to the next farmhouse

Simple things

 For her to love


They both rest now

Mother and son

Under the cypresses

And his daughter

Smells the warm sage and mint

In the afternoon sun

When in the night

She takes her soul home.

@Lucia Clark 2000

 The next sketch and poem are about Sperlonga, a charming little village on the Tirrenian coast

The Tower of the Sun 


There is a tower

On the beach

Where the sun lingers

Before sleep

Seagulls and waves

Dance in its light

Wings and foam

Tinted of gold

And then there is night

@Lucia Clark 1992

The next poem and photo are about a  festival in Southern Italy, La Festa Te Lu Mieru

Hymn to Dionysius 

During a festival

Where the wine

Had an ancient name

I recognized Dionysius

A boy

In the music of his drum.

But the God was in everyone.

He took me from house to house


Daughter of Aeneas,

 In each threshold

I recognized a part of me

I received Bread

And liquor distilled

From the light of the sun.

Exile daughter

Hands invited me

Eyes spoke to me


The sadness within me.

I heard the song

Of Salento and

I kept it in my soul.


Among the vineyards and the towers

Of my childhood

I think of the olive trees

And the white stones

With an ancient name

@Lucia Clark 1999

While doing field research, I visit schools where I have several dear friends. The kids of Calimera always welcome me vociferously.

I presented my work in Calabria, where I was given a wonderful reception