CARCIOFI


ARIELLA STOIAN



Nonno and I will be making and freezing carciofi

for when you come for a visit.

heart emoji


                                                                       The reopening of Australian state borders is the latest

                                                                       tension between state and federal authority, after

                                                                       schools.


                                                                       In April 2020 PM Morrison advised Australians not to

                                                                       expect to leave the country until Christmas.


                                                                       PM Morrison also apologises for taking a holiday

                                                                       during the 2019 bushfire crisis.



Carciofi are artichokes.


Growing up, Nonna would roast seasonal carciofi that Nonno drove an hour and back to get, covering them in melted fresh mozzarella. You have to eat them with your hands, dragging your teeth against the fibrous outer leaves to suck off what flesh you can find. They protect the heart, which melts in your mouth.


Nonno makes them himself now.


                                                                       In March 2020 people fight over bags of rice in Aldi.

                                                                       My friend is too anxious to go into the supermarket

                                                                       alone.


                                                                       I stock up on tin cans but refuse to bulk buy sanitary

                                                                       pads.


                                                                       In the park I see three big dogs tugging at the same

                                                                       frisbee, their owners wait 2 meters apart.


Mum and Nonno live on the same street even though we’ve had chats about co-

dependence.


                                                                                                                                               I

                                                                       order chicken soup even though I don’t eat chicken. It

                                                                       reminds me of being sick as a child, a warm hand on my

                                                                       head and endless midday TV.



They go for walks together down the beach, before the sun rises. Late at night I get videos of first light reaching toward shore.


Nonno swims every morning until it gets too cold.


                                                                       The Uber driver said he’d mostly been driving NHS

                                                                       workers getting off shift. A research scientist we’re

                                                                       friends with said the severity might be because we got a

                                                                       heavy viral load.


Every Christmas we talk about what we’re going to make next Christmas and remember the food we had at our last Christmas while eating the carefully planned menu of this Christmas. We are never in the present moment of food, we acknowledge, and carry on. Equipped with self-excusing self-awareness.


One year my uncle decided to spit-roast a whole pig and we had lunch at 9 pm. We never let him forget it. Some say it was worth it.


Last year I was in London, where I moved to follow my dreams.

Starry eyed emoji.


                                                                       I get up. I roast vegetables. I roast legumes. I cook rice.

                                                                       I make pasta. I sit down. I roast vegetables. I roast

                                                                       legumes. I cook rice. I make pasta. I lie down.



When I first left home I used to go to Nonno’s for lunch, just the two of us.

He made me a traditional dish of beans, pork and shallots.


I was vegan so he picked all the pork out by hand. The beans still tasted smoky.


Between the silences, he would teach me cheap, easy recipes.


                                                                       PM BoJo is ___________________________


                                                                                                  Recovering

                                                                                                  Humbled

                                                                                                  Living his boyhood dream

                                                                                                  Incompetent


                                                              You should be thankful it’s just your grandparents

                                                                                                             who are dead.


My Italian Zios and Zias call every day to check on my progress.


           We clap at 8 pm for Marissa, Dr. West, Dr. Lees, the Paramedics, the stories in the paper.

           One Thursday I link my phone to a speaker and play pre-recorded applause, loud, off

           YouTube. I stop because my partner is embarrassed.


When it’s Summer, hot in the late 30s, you don’t even want to eat. It’s like the world is enough.


                                                                       The sun has started to come out and I like to imagine

                       the virus dying inside me. Even though I don’t have the UV access holes

                       recommended by Trump.


Thunder clouds roll in at dusk, the southerly change hits the coast. The downpour resets the heat until tomorrow.


                                                                       I forget to eat. It doesn’t taste of much anyway.


Back in my day there was time to lie on the beach, thinking nothing.


                                                                       We walk to the park and a wall of flesh greets us. We

                                                                       turn back around.


How many carciofi do you want? 10? More?


                                                                       We still won’t go to the store, even though our fever is

                                                                       gone.


I wish I could make you soup.


                                                                       People seem obdurate about walking near me while I

                                                                       try to maintain social distance. It makes me furious

                                                                       because I am poison and scared.


Mum pays too much postage to send me hand sanitiser in the mail.


                                                                       The heart is also called the choke.


The airport calls to tell her they can’t send it because it’s alcohol.


                                                                       The package arrives intact. The hand sanitiser smells

                                                                       like home. Someone, somewhere.


Nonno has sent me Betadine. He WhatsApp’s me to explain

how to gargle it even though there are

instructions on the packet.


                                                                       You draw your teeth along the leaf, sucking what flesh

                                                                       you can.


It tastes like iron, spits like blood.


                                                                       Until the main event, the heart. It melts in your mouth.




Listen to Ariella read "Carciofi" below and for best experience, use headphones to hear aurally the splitting of the lines into left and right: 

00:00 / 04:22

ARIELLA STOIAN is a playwright and all-round meaning maker on her good days. She's worked for theatre and new writing organisations in Australia and now the UK. She's currently finishing her MFA in Writing for Stage at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London.

Atlanta | New York City | Boston | Hong Kong 

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