Twenty years ago I met the Italian poet Vivian Lamarque at the monumental cemetery of Milan. I didn‘t even know that she was a poet and I either didn‘t imagine I would become a poet, too, one day. She was watering plants, taking care of graves which seemed to be abandoned or at least disregarded. She was filling a watering can from a fountain; in one hand she was holding garden shears. But the reason I remember her is that around her neck a pair of glasses were hanging from a glasses chain. It seemed odd to me to have glasses with a chain on a cemetery whilst lifting a watering can. I don’t know how I looked at her, but she smiled at me in a friendly way. Many years later, after I had become a poet, I saw a documentary in which she explained why she likes to be at the monumental cemetery and what makes her take care of the graves of strangers. I remember her because in the film one could see her on moving back and forth through grave stones exactly in the same way as she did when I met her. How long it took me to know who she was.
Illustration by Galya Popova