Lucia our friend


I thought I didn’t have first memories of Lucia--as though she had always been present in my adult life. Actually I do remember--the way we do in pictures- unframed because they bleed a little into some other fuzzy picture unreadable but there.
So we must have been friends already and probably at the Peace Center and she probably came into the center through John and Sally Darr and my faulty remembrance is that she already understood more about the nonviolence that Mary Gandall and I and later so many sisters and brothers began to know and try to live. Nonviolence and passion--our Lucia.
But first the picture is sad. I am in their old loft and she and Ernst are working their hard way to a separation which of course never happened in their emotional and thinking life--only their daily living bodies and that was hard certainly for Lucia most of the rest of her time--though life in Florence helped.
But the next picture: We are running (nobody following) we are perhaps just hurrying from street corner to street corner of Little Italy. Lucia is writing PACE PACE T’IMPLORO in chalk. I am the lookout. We’ve chosen to do this late at night. Lucia is too sad about the reactionary Italian community which she swears was once solid socialist and anarchist.
Another picture: We are in jail--in a large holding tank. There are a couple of benches. About twenty women have been arrested after a sit-in at draft headquarters. We think we’ll probably be out by evening. Meanwhile all is paper and tedium. But then Lucia is reading Proust to us--Within a Budding Grove--and we gather round to listen. Lucia was one of the few artists who was a profound literary person as well. A great reader and stubborn intelligent adamant talker about books. She was also not terribly forgiving if you liked some film (or book) she considered third rate. She was not easily appeased if you compromised and said okay, maybe not first rate, how about second rate.
A late picture--she is standing at the corner of Bank and Bleecker, she is arguing fiercely for the life of the linden trees in the small plaza at Abingdon Square. A group of citizen mothers want to enlarge the playground. But she understands and hates the tree and plaza shortage in NY compared to Rome Florence Paris all the great European cities.
Lucia believed in the artist as a movement worker. Her work for all of us could be seen in everyday leaflets (made with Sybil Claiborne most of the time) also dear the posters, the woodcuts, the WRL calendars. The stunning unique panel paintings of Vietnamese women, created for the doors of the Washington Square Methodist Church, were political art at its most direct and beautiful.
Lucia was a true friend, a loyal and never-betraying comrade. I say these clichés and would underline them again and again. This is the way we lived then and Lucia was always present: the vigiling, the leafleting, the political walks and bus rides to demonstrations, the arm-in-arm walks in the neighborhood evening, the confiding, the men and women, the women and women, her love of Ernst--close to dying if not death--her sense of responsibility to him, her lack of responsibility to herself, her anxiety that his work be seen in a British exhibition, which thanks to Paul, it was. Her love of us all, her raging, her cold anger at death, her cruelty to friends she loved deeply as she died, the particular way most young people (my own children among many others) just naturally loved her the way they knew her at once, and of course, for years and years, the surprise of her beauty .