Author (Greek version): Dimitris Soukoulis
Translation: Maria Ourani
I have the brilliant name of a goddess and I did not honor her name enough, for I am a bad craftsman, a ceramist from Corinth.
I am not skilful and I am constantly absent-minded.
I never learned the trade.
I never observed the craftsman’s fingers when I had to.
I did not imitate styles and strategies: whatever I had to say, I said it freely like a blasphemy of a reflective pain, like a remnant of bronchitis, like a relief of a patient in recovery. But most people are afraid of my frankness, just like you, who, hearing one word, moved to a different place.
The chief craftsman called me lazy and he punished me by letting me starve. And so, when everybody else ate salted sardines and lentils with old vinegar, I talked to the birds and became friends with the chickens in the yard. They are the ones that taught me to tell nice stories and fairytales and a prolonged hymn for Venus with so many lyrics, enough for a thousand steps, courage to the passer-by who stands under the pine tree, whose knees bend because of love and he is panting for breath out of need and because of the hill.
You don’t know it, but it’s tiring to turn the wheel, to make the pot thin, to draw beautiful lines, to paint the strength on the arms of the athletes, their careless eye, the envy of the gods, the braids of Medusa…
It needs patience and I do not have it anymore.
Neither strength in my legs. I don’t have it either. Otherwise, I would have run and I would have caught you before you left. I would also take part in the Pythia, in the race, in wrestling, in the pentathlon, along with the others. I would defeat you and we would return home together. We would put the prize, a curly celery, in the vase. The room would smell pride. I would flow in the air. Your nostrils would open. You would inhale me. You would swallow me. My deceit would be pleasant for you.
When I was young, I used to make unleavened pastries out of flour and water and I pushed them inside the mouths of people who starved, of people who dreamed. They don’t care about forms and shapes, about burnt crust, about the deformation caused by my crooked hands and by the uneven pressure of the phalanges. The anticipation makes them swallow them without chewing them, and their hunger and pain stop for a moment. They are easy to fool, just like children. The rest of the world has always got something to say against you. Let it be.
However, wheat is rare in my dry homeland. Mostly when the ships take too long to arrive and unload from the colonies in Syracuse and Taranto. But clay abounds in beaches with reeds. Not far down the road. Like a thought that lasts as long a cigarette.
And I made a big urn so that I can hide my hunch form passers-by. And I put a straw lid on it, so that I can see the stars and count the time, so that I can see when the moon gets full or empty, and if there is wind and rain in the west, and if you freeze, and if, while you sleep deeply, dreaming of a nice and pleasant dream, of what your mother and your destiny wish, you have thrown away the blanket and you sleep uncovered.
And I make clay dolls and horses and carriages dragged by oxen, toys for kids and charms for unmarried women, and fake earrings, cheap offerings to lower gods and barefoot demons.
I am a retail salesman, a despicable little dealer from Corinth. I set my stall and I sell my wares. For you, I learned how to cheat in weighing and how to water down the paint. To increase the profit. Because my hands are black from alms and pennies full of holes. And I have nothing else to offer you, except for poems, simple lyrics without rhyme in the ending.
Dedicated to Marco Palmigiani