The Old School

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But to say what you want to say you must createanother language and nourish it for yearsand years with what you have loved. With what youhave lost. With what you will never find again. George Seferis

Kicking the same stones I kicked twenty years ago.I find my way back to the Old School.

Mid-afternoon. Mid-summer.The temperature rising. Birds in flightthrust back the climate of boundaries;the sun drippingthrough latticed branches floodlightsmy senses: from the schoolyardI wade into the classroom. Where a bare bulbhangs from the ceiling, reflectsin a puddle of water,illuminating the limits of perception.

By the blackboard:a dust-mop, an overturned pail.

In this room, I once plied at lessons.My pen circled mythical contourslike the gapin a stencil, my language emergingfrom a forgottenintensity. Lifeline of tales:Queen Pasiphae's love for a bull from the seasnaring her into temptation,spawning anguished cries. Deafening herto anything else. The Minotaur's wailbounced against labyrinth wallsas he ran circles round his own tail.Punctuated by what's missing,doubtful pageswithout endbecome a certainty.

In this room, the mantinada of a kinshiptaut as oars: rowingme downstreamto a distant shore. Callingand calling to migrant children, the xenitemenithough steady currents erodeeven our vows: tiny pebblessucked down by the undertow.

When I was seven I learned to measure all distancesby the gait of a trotting horse. Grandfatherhoisting me onto the saddle; his long armsstrapped round me.His sweater keeping me warm.

Years after I'd returned to TorontoGrandfather was harnessedby a stroke; he yanked bedsheetsas if drawing reins, one by one, to a halt.

Learning my chairagainst the wall, one legtucked under me, I now place a footon the tie-beamof the adjacent chair:tapping.Balancing on an act of faith.

The silence is differentwhen I'm alone.This I know.

© Tsiriotakis Helen