“From the tree of life I just picked a plum.
You came along, and things just started to hum.
Well, it’s a real good bet, the best is yet to come…”
(“The Best Is Yet To Come”, by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh)
Today is one of those rare days that always reminds me of late summer, the type that seems so appealing when I am trudging through the narrow sidewalks of late winter. In my memory, all August days are crisp, long-shadowed, and glorious, full of promise, lust defined.
The fruit hangs low now on the trees, and I will pluck it right off rather than wait for it to descend on its own. I will shake the tree, and let your pungent fruit enchant me, envelop me, remain on me.
Is my fantasy the same of those Tuscan women in the thirteenth century? Ah.. perhaps:
“The mural, found concealed on a wall inside one of Massa Marittima’s public fountains, consists of a tree with human penises and testicles hanging from its branches, beneath which stand eight or possibly nine female figures in medieval dress. One of the women appears to be using a pole to pull one of the penises to within reach. ” (from The Telegraph, 21 August 2011, read here)
Of course, the article that features this fresco does not focus on its discovery, or on its delicious lustiness. It is a story of censorship, whether by weather or by intention. In the name of restoration, the genitals have been scrubbed, covered, obliterated.. perhaps. Or perhaps they are all the more obvious for their disappearance.
After all, would The Telegraph be publishing a story about this wonderful piece if censorship were not the headline?
And if we could see these lovely penises, ripe for the picking, if the article were indeed directly about this, and not about its denial, would we have even noticed it? Or would we, some centuries later, be shocked by the headline describing it? Can we only talk about what we want by remarking what others will not let us have?
It is a curious thing, this desire to hide from desire, the seeming necessity to separate sex from life–to deny it as well as to put it on a pedestal–when in fact, sex is life, woven into it in so many different ways. It breathes life, it sustains us–if not the physical act, then the wish for it, the imagining of it, the rapture of it, the memory of it, the pure luscious taste of it.