Rhubarb on the Terrace

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I creep down the stairs with muffled steps. I turn on the kitchen light. Time seems to be standing still. Copper saucepans lined up against the wall, pottery bowls, cups and plates on the shelves, a ladle, wooden spoons in the earthenware pot, all are frozen in expectation of a hand reaching for them. Only the clock on the wall is emitting its familiar tick-tock.
I fill the metal kettle, and place it on the gas. I remove the cloth from the round loaf with the golden crust, and cut two good slices which I slide into the toaster. I open the door of the wooden cupboard, and pick up the glass jar, the one with a label that reminds me of those I used to stick on my school books. Delicate little writing, with precise rounded letters: ‘Rhubarb jam by Mamina’. My grandmother, that old lady to whom I owe so much, and who is asleep upstairs.
The kettle begins its little song, the bread leaps out all golden and crispy. With a full tray, I open the door onto the terrace and sit down at the table. The spot is still peopled by shadows, lit dimly by the ceiling light in the kitchen. I pour the tea into my bowl. Curls of steam escape, releasing the scent of bergamot. I spread the rhubarb jam over my slices of toast. Butter is unnecessary, this jam is enough by itself to complement the bread. 
Like a sigh, I can feel the still cool air of the night vanishing. The sky lightens, taking on a pink hue. I am ready. I am waiting, impatient. The orange-toned disc so long awaited reveals itself and I munch delightedly into my toast and jam. This is my own happy rising, just mine alone. This special time that I cherish whenever I visit my childhood home. An explosion of flavor in my mouth, the acidic taste of the rhubarb and the crustiness of the toast. My taste buds aroused, I savour  each mouthful while my marvelling eyes, never tiring of the spectacle, witness the renaissance of this wild nature I love so much. I let myself be carried away in this bubble and hold my breath so that it does not burst too soon.

Translated by Wendy Cross


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