What I Know of You, Pippa Bacca

1. We were in Istanbul, together, just before your last ride. Perhaps our shoulders touched as we passed on Sıraselviler, not enough room for two. Did you look at me when I spoke to you? I would have gone with you.

2. You believed in the goodness of humanity. Your family believed in your intuition. Soon, you would float into Israel, in an old Carmengia, your filthy dress shut in the car door, waiting to be released. You’d sleep that night with the windows open, your bridal habit on a hanger, finding shimmer in the streetlight.

3. You washed the feet of midwives and watched the women’s needles embroider patterns into your dress: did one at the hem predict this would happen?

4. Perhaps those who waited for you in the streets remained for hours before turning back to their homes, lights from kitchens illuminating the worries of a backstreet.

5. We talked about your willingness to step into each car, at the mercy of your driver, a man who could crush your necklace with his fist.

6. A black van slowed for you, outside of Istanbul.

7. The woods of Gebze looked over you, words lost in your mouth.

8. You became fire, then smoke, then air.

9. You reappeared. Under bushes. Hair. Teeth. Other traces of you would come later. You asked for something not everyone can give. I think of my students wearing headscarves and trench coats for protection. Chastity is a beautiful word. Clean as white. White as clean.

10. You were not wearing your wedding gown when buried in the silent woods as the spring thaw began.

*Giuseppina “Pippa Bacca” Pasqualino di Marineo (1975-2008). Dressed as a bride, this Italian performance artist was raped and murdered while on a hitchhiking peace tour to the Middle East. More information here.

About the author

Angela Hamiltonʼs essays have recently appeared in The MacGuffin, Quarterly West, and The Truth About the Fact. Currently, she teaches at Fatih University in…

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Issue 05 · June 2009

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