We Are

May 7, 2017 § 1 Comment

I’m sure we are waves.

How else to explain the force

with which we throw ourselves

onto these sharp volcano shores,

our despair when we must withdraw.

 

The moon poems haven’t helped,

the night watch felt asleep on duty.

 

I’m sure we are winds.

We find every little crack

on each other’s shabby cabins

we tear them apart and disappear,

come back, whistling, in daybreak.

 

The dawn songs haven’t helped,

the morning birds have migrated.

 

I’m sure we are a bad dream.

Someone will tell about us to a friend,

she’ll laugh and say: You poor little thing!

She’ll touch their hand and kiss their cheek,

our traces all gone, a bright day begins.

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Earthquake 

May 5, 2017 § Leave a comment

When our house got damaged by the big earthquake we moved for a year to an old cabin in our orange trees field, previously used to store father’s tools and as a temporary accommodation for the seasonal fruit pickers. We stayed there for the year it took to repair our house; my parents, myself and my two older brothers in just one room, the other one used as a kitchen and dining place. The restroom was a separate tiny cabin. 

My friend M., whose house had been only slightly damaged, was much more excited about all this than I was, receiving it almost as an opportunity for a permanent camping adventure. She came to visit me everyday after school and would stay until my mum would send her back to her mum “so she wouldn’t get worried”. “Five in one room is more than enough for me”, mum would say closing the door behind M. with a sigh of relief. 

A few years later, when I got married –much too young and to M.’s great astonishment and disapproval– I moved to our prefecture’s capital, next to a small old church severely damaged by the same earthquake. A new church was built and was in use a few houses further, but nobody wanted to tear down the old one. Sometimes religious celebrations took place in the church’s yard and somehow candles always burned inside. 

My marriage turned out to be an unhappy one. M. visited me only once, after I got my first child. Then she moved very far away, to study, to live, to have real camping adventures, I don’t know.

I had a couple of affairs but never got divorced. Seems to me I had lit too many candles in that old church.

Alexander visits Corinth

April 30, 2017 § Leave a comment

Ugliness is heartbreaking. To see ugliness and not misjudge yourself for beauty or your taste for exquisite is true seeing. To like, dislike but also understand is a matter of eternity.

Corinth is full of ugly statues. Also the cacophony of the modern architecture. I had to laugh. I had to cry.

Plutarch’s story:

“Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to Alexander with their congratulations, and he expected that Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. But since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him; and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many people coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, “Yes,” said Diogenes, “stand a little out of my sun”. It is said that Alexander was so struck by this, and admired so much the haughtiness and grandeur of the man who had nothing but scorn for him, that he said to his followers, who were laughing and jesting about the philosopher as they went away, “But truly, if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.””

Lisboa

April 15, 2017 § 2 Comments


In the wee hours of Good Friday I woke up by a dream that involved the streets the procession of the Bier of Christ would take place the same evening. It was 4am and the dream was still so clear that I immediately wrote it down in my online notebook. Then I fell in deep sleep again. I don’t know what went wrong but those notes are gone and now the details of that dream too. 

At first sight the streets I grew up haven’t changed much over the years, but two more close neighbours died this winter and my parents’ generation in our street is in decline. 

My dream was certainly influenced by this notion and the spirit of Good Friday. What I still remember is me walking down the very street in full daylight but completely alone. Against the solitude of the image, in my mind, a sentence echoing: “This street is not empty. This street is not empty.” I was in Berger’s Lisboa.

Later that evening, on my way to the Good Friday procession, I turned to look back and, except for the sunshine, I saw my dream.

My Apollos

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

On the plane to Greece I was reading ‘Apollo’, a short story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in which the protagonist visits his elderly parents twice a month to naturally find them every time older and fragiler. In Adichie’s story age has not only altered and softened the parents’ bodies but also, so it seems to their son, their character. He finds his well-educated parents, both former strictly rational academics, now supporting each other’s superstitious stories, watching animal documentaries on TV and overusing Vicks VapoRub! 

My parents are not particularly well-educated and certainly no former academics. They would have probably been prosper former farmers by now, if it wasn’t for the financial crisis that still forces them to cultivate their land as their pensions are too small and selling no option for them either. Not yet. But that said, I recognise some of Adichie’s observations about parents growing old: “It was a kind of innocence, this new childhood of old age”, she writes. Mum and Dad are not as old as the couple in that story, but I notice a certain carelessness and indifference for consequences in their behaviour. I have to repeatedly tell them to watch their language or choice of stories in front of my ten-year-old who now finds Grandma and Grandpa the coolest as they always say the very funny things parents would never say. Very different to Adichie’s elders though, they also seem to have not really accept the limits of their ageing bodies: they’re in their seventies and they keep doing things that are quite worrying: dad regularly riding his tractor full speed or mum doing a four-day trip, twelve-hour each way, by bus!, to Bulgaria in deepest winter, only to come back with almost a pneumonia. 

Well, I think I better buy them a huge box full of Vicks VapoRub for Easter.

Rasputin

April 13, 2017 § Leave a comment


The plane was full with elders travelling to Greece for the orthodox Easter. I had to smile when a Greek priest also came on board. He was a quite tall man in his fifties, dressed in his dark grey travel frock with a very big cross banging on his belly every time he moved to fetch something out of his bags. His beard was also a bit longer and wilder than the priest beards I remembered. The older ladies greeted him with respect and initiated a chat with him whenever possible. All in all I just had to think of Rasputin, though our plane monk didn’t have his crazy eyes, was cleaner and well-behaved. 

A Morning Song From a Dream

April 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

Like a ship that could never sink

off you sailed in full speed

threw all extra love pain overboard

till the last island of the great ocean

the one furnished by sweet dreams

with sandy beaches and palm trees

where only sad songs remind

of the world you left behind.

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