In the café with no music
where the presumed mute barman worked,
there used to be a silence
in between your thoughts and mine,
a secret universe where we could meet.

As you made one of those thin cigarettes your ally
and smoke would curl upon the yellow sooted wall,
the contours of your face were fading in the grey.

Only a street away from school
was the place where all was possible
but nothing happened.
Your hand was close to mine,
you could have reached.

Remember how the barman stood as always,
his neck seemed broken
as he dried his glasses with that cloth,
the sunbeams with the dancing dust,
us dancing without touching without music
but the beating of our hearts so every move
was moving us apart some more.

The barman smiled and sunshine made him like an angel.
He didn’t hear the silent conversation that went on.
It used to be a place where we would be in silence between classes.

Out of the café’s window we could watch the birds fly free
across the graveyard over the old stones,
where no one lied that we would know,
we didn’t need much more at all.
This place, not ours, was our shelter
from painfull foolish loudness, laughter.
We sat in rain outside during our lunch together
or helped the barman do the dishes, and this was so enough.

Some moments after we had left one day,
the barman screamed out loud.
He fell while we were inside school. The postman was his witness.

We came to know. His death, which was the end of our silence,
although we did not know him well, meant that we had no choice but talk.
As if a rope had broken, something snapped and let all go,
we had to speak of him a while,
and of much more, we cried the rainy day that he was buried,
when we realised no people came to see him off.

We hardly knew his name but how we knew his voice.
And now his scream, that we had missed by seconds,
came standing there between us as the reaper,
the dust still dancing in the sunlight.

The café was no longer our hiding place from noise. It closed.
Sometimes I see your face in smoke
or hear your heart in silence.

Comments on: "Schooldays" (10)

  1. I’ver been here. No Cossack, no Kickapoo, no moon, not even the hiss of a Gaggia machine.

    This is one heck of a poem.

  2. This is a wonderful poem Ina,

    I love a poem which tells a story and which depicts it in such a way that I can smell the coffee 🙂

    Arohanui 🙂
    David xxx

    • Hi David,
      thank you very much 🙂 I was not too sure it was a poem or prose!
      Good old schooldays – not lol .
      Ah, coffee, speaking of which! 🙂 Enjoy your pj day! Tea, love and cuddles 🙂
      Arohanui xxx

  3. Yes, those endearing, gilt-edged and bitter-sweet memories of youth shared with so much feeling by you…thank you Ina…

  4. BTW, couldn’t access your ‘Home for Christmas’ post…?

    • No I think it was not good enough so I put it on hold 🙂 I often find it difficult to be historical accurate in a narrative poem, so much more to tell than a poem can carry, if I make sense. Like I want to write another poem about an uncle of mine who went missing with his ship in a storm in 1953 somewhere between Germany and England and his ship was never found, then his daughter by accident learnt that divers had just found the ship, and it was here near the island, where his mother and sister lived, so he died (probably, his body was never found) quite near them. It is such a amazing story, but I can’t fit it in a poem 🙂 Maybe a poem is more meant for one thought, one feeling or one event. Or it must be a long poem of course. Studying on the sublect!

  5. This is wonderful storytelling … poetic or otherwise … very visual and sensory. Very sad, too. XO

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