remember Dea when men were artists and girls were goddesses," said
It all started for Hermè years ago when aunt and uncle, both
doctors escaping the Nazi threat, fled to Barcelona. Although forced
to take other employment, they survived well under Franco. R, the English
poet, looking for inspiration in Ancient Greek or Roman artefacts, often
frequented their antique shop off the Ramblas. The Rosens purchased
a house near the writer on the island and a life-long friendship ensued.
who had written of the Goddess, later pursued mortal beauties fashioned
in her image. When Hermè was first carried to Dea in her mother's
womb, they both resisted his charm.
Dea had inspired many: Georgina Sand and her Polish composer. Garden
Stein, Pablo Pique As, Federico Garcia Coral and the Spanish composer,
Manuel de Fire. But R and the Goddess cast the longest shadows.
drinking at Sa Font; the incarnation of the poet, is sitting there with
his second family. I sometimes hear him in Germany on English radio,
Saturdays, filling-in for John.
Sixteen years ago R's daughter Lucky, organised another birthday memorial,
in the amphitheatre; Hermè, invited to the rehearsal, saw R perform
his ping-pong poem; her one hundred black braids struck him. Subsequently,
Hermè discovered R with blank paper, writing a Cosmo article
on his role as 'new' father; he hadn't attended the older boys' births.
Hermè remembered the Famous Fours' pal's poetry reading in Chalk
Ferme, when she was eighteen.
bumped into R, on his way down and boasted of the morning's exertions:
Hermè had rambled along the coast from the Moss Valley, past
the Rock-with-the-Hole and on to Dea with a group that leapt from boulder,
along dusty tracks by the sea, reaching Dea cala by midday.
Another day, on her way to Jacob, a Jewish-German exile and writer,
who played chess with her father in Dea, or at Hamstead's Prom-Corner
Cafe, she remembered a different tower. Hermè had been 16 and
Jerry 9, when he showed her the Moorish castle on the headland. This
son of a prestigious London curator and a well-known art critic, who
believed in liberal education, gave a reefer to his younger brother
before they set off.
was cool in the shadow of the pines; here and there, cannon balls nestled
in the rust needle carpet. At the cliff's edge they entered the tower's
wooden door, branded with a swastika. A makeshift branch ladder threatened
to topple at every move. Once inside, Hermè blindly traversed
a dark winding stair. And then, a door opened onto brazen sunlight.
Hermè saw a large circular terracotta floor, a room with no ceiling,
a chimneystack emitting wisps of white smoke and miles of calm, blue
ocean, with no clear point between sea and cloudless sky; she could
see the world's curve.
talked to a young man; a naked woman swept the dusty floor. 1968, the
English year of love was also about German student rebellion, confrontation
with the fascist legacy. Her me, an Anglo-German, felt divided.
She arrived. Anise Nina wrote of these premises in the 30's, when a
sirocco wind forced her off the street into the dwelling of 2 lesbians.
This other tower also appeared on a 70's record cover illustrating the
annunciation of a black magic woman, over Dea beach. When he wasn't
in London, or at the Shellsea, Jacob lived here. They drank wine and
he told Hermè of Lilith's merciful sex act in the concentration
camp. Jacob was old and sure. The electricity passed through them like
a burst of song from a startled bird. He bent her over and took her
swiftly from behind.
night in the bar, there were only two free chairs at the table of a
lonely poet, pen in hand.
"Did you name the poems after Bergmar?" Hermè enquired.
It was the title on a poster that had inspired him; he'd never seen
talked R into taking a midnight swim and they fetched towels from the
house where his older boys slept. In the dark, R stumbled after Hermè
but her bare feet remembered every stone and tree root, from so many
childhood walks. At the Torrente she ran over the plank placed across
the empty river basin and he cautiously imitated her.
described Anise Nina's 1930's erotic night-bathing story; only a week
earlier, we were there, swimming naked. Hermè had spread her
arms in a languid breaststroke, hands moving through water as electric
sparks, the efflorescence of sea algae, came off the ends of her fingers.
R asked who she was and pronounced: you are why. He stopped and he kissed
her and she felt the light movement of his tongue inside her mouth taking
leaps down to her heart.
When they turned the final corner, a very different seascape confronted
them. Great waves crashed from a boiling ocean onto rocks.
want to see the Goddess emerging from the sea," insisted R.
She could hardly refuse, so removing garments Hermè tested the
froth. R followed, still wearing glasses and shorts.
A large wave tumbled her into the shingle. R, landing in rabid shallows,
cried: "I've lost my specs - can't do anything without them".
Incredibly, the reflecting glasses were found unbroken, in the wet sand.
dried himself. The sea had frozen emotions with her body. In the darkness
Hermè noticed a stain on the white towel around her body.
bleeding, though I didn't feel a thing
lucky it wasn't my head."
R came over but didn't seem perturbed by the blood running down her
thigh. The warmth of his body revived Hermè.
Walking back, she held up skirts to prevent blood discolouring the silk.
Before reaching the village, they spread towels in the grass and lay
down together, under the stars.
the airport later, a doctor examined Hermè's leg; the injury
was a large, hard bruise, the size of the crown of a baby's head.