Ghosts of our Creative Ancestors: Lineage of Fire and Water Part 3 Florence

The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.
~ Michelangelo



A Letter from the Red Thread Cafe

Lineage of Fire and Water Part 3 Firenze Florence

Ghosts of our Creative Ancestors


The footsteps of Michelangelo in the early morning

haunt me with echoing stones on the streets of Firenze.

He is returning home from working in the bones.

Last night I thought I heard Sue’s voice

in the darkened chamber

as he held the candle for her

so she could see the bodies clearly.

They sketched until dawn.

There is work to be done.

Commissions to finish.

He is a part of passing this legacy to me.

I have always known this.

There was a time when I was lost

and saved myself through spending

time with him in Florence in my mind,

now I am here.

Chills runs through me

as the pigeons nibble on my daily bread

and share my cafe.


Sue and I rowed again

along with my Love this time,

and Sue’s cat

in our cosmic boats

rowing through stardust

in the columned great rooms

of the Uffuzi, she pointed out to me, the muscles

on the arms of Mary in the Holy Family

saying Michelangelo knew what work She, Mary, had to do

to hold Him up – and Joseph’s strong hand

on the innocent chest passing him to his mother

was pointed out by the resident astronomer and artist,

showing us the intimacy, the humanity, the gravity.

Your only finished painting to survive…Doni Madonna.

Florence is filled with the ghosts of our creative ancestors

and I have cafe with them each day.


As we row past Botticelli’s Venus rising from her shell

I reject the story of her birth in myth and make up my own.

I have grown tired of stories where men give birth

from noses and scrotums –

can’t we at least be at cause for birth, gentlemen?

The feminine is expanded through her tilted head and gaze.

For me she is my Mona Lisa – something in her face

tells me show knows things that she will never reveal

but in moments of cafe with her she whispers to me

of birth, phallacy and possibility.

Botticelli waxed poetic about her,

as well as the 190 flower varieties in his Flora.

Was Flora the Goddess, Mary or both?

Yes is the answer, and Florence was named

after flowers – so many reasons to love this place.

Venus and Jupiter sit together having

champagne side by side in the sky,

laughing gaily at our folly.


I shudder thinking of the bonfire of the vanities

Botticelli burning his own paintings to be pure

and I give a silent nod of thanks to the Medici

for saving so much art, soul, humanity.

Not a conflict with my Christianity.

Mary’s eyes looking back at me from the Icons

tells me she has been here since the beginning

of the beginning – notice how she sees.

Don’t underestimate the Blessed Mother

or keep her trapped in an idea of man’s church.


Strolling through the Vassari corridor with my

13 friends we see hundreds of eyes gazing back,

portraits of artists with their brushes and palettes in hand

“The medieval calling card is a painting sent to the Medici”

My love quipped and took my hand as we stared into

the eyes of women painters making their way

in a man’s world – I tell them aloud

I see you sisters, I pray for you,

you are remembered.

I will pray for the Paintress Sister Nelli.

I am sorry about Florence’s invisible women artists

I am so glad to have met you now

and to enjoy your last supper with you.


I had a brief conversation with Brunelleschi about

the color of marble in the impossible duomo

at the 13th century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and

what it made me feel like and how the air in Florence

is that same color of pink peach majesty.

I gave thanks at his grave hidden deep within

the church until the early 70ies

how long he waited to be revealed there.

The two alternating colors chosen for

“rectitude and beauty” the two basic

principles of Florentine art always make me cry.


We had dinner with DaVinci and Artemisia

Just so I can hear them have a conversation about light

and line. We buy them dinner and

drift into the streets after midnight.


The muse is waiting for me on the corner

looking at me in the same way your portrait,

Artemisia looks back at us.

The smell of fresh pasta, leather and gelato

filling my senses to overflowing.

A personal renaissance floods my soul

as my own Vetruvian woman enters her sphere.



Counter clockwise 24 hours tick tock

counting down instead of counting up

after 700 years hands of time timing.


All of you, ghosts of our creative ancestors.

Named and unnamed.

I lit a candle for you at the foot of

Santa Maria’s flowery starred dome.

Your legacy lives on in me

and I will tell the others about you

and bring them with me

when I return.

~ Shiloh Sophia


“Pray for the Paintress” – Nun and Painter, Sour Plautilla Nelli (1524–1588)