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GREEKS 
IN AUSTRALIA

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THE SAME LIGHT
 

The Same Light is a moving and deeply felt exploration of the experiences of Greek immigrants to Australia.  

Yasso Kalamaras, in stories and poems written across a number of years, presents a graphic and compelling account of the tensions, hopes, plans, joys and despair that are part of leaving one country for another.  At times celebratory, at times challenging, The Same Light is an important work by one of Australia's best known GreekkAustralian writers.  'Her prose is as intense and beautiful as the sound of Greek music' -

 Bob Morrow, Advertiser. 

 nn

NOW  

Now that the time approaches
 
when I shall belong to the past
 
I sit and tie up in bundles 
all the beloved faces 
which once I had and lost.

I place them in a large
hallowed ring. 
 find their faults now
insignificant and their gifts 
the sweet wet kiss of a dawn.

Together we do much more in thought. 
In the light which from eternity 
reveals the truth 
within us to the depth of depths 
we remain 
beyond all else people. 
That's where I stopped.  

Translated by Con Castan

 v
WW

ALREADY

 

This day has passed 
so has the night 
count the days measure the nights 
but do not consider 
how late you will be 
you are there already.  

Translated by June Kingdom and vasso Kalamara

 ff

THE ANCHORAGE WAS NOT BLUE

 

It was chilly; it was autumn, you see. The waves were rising and our plucky boat seemed like a phantom. Boo-oo, boo-oo ... boo-oo-oo-oo it whistled. Then silence again. I was hearing the rending of the waters. The wind shrieked, chilling our skins.  

It must have been past midnight, but we could not stay asleep. We had become ghosts, awaiting a sign.  

The children were afraid to sleep on their own in the cabin.  

They could not bear the waiting. They stretched out in a big arm-chair, with myselfin the middle, my lap their pillow. I held their little heads for some time as they slept deeply. Their father covered them with raincoats.  

Noone wished to talk. Mr Manolis, the cook, came in suddenly and gave us the news, 'Hey you! Come! We are entering our own waters. The Greek sea!'  

We looked ateach otheras iffrozen. Most of us cast our eyes down fearfully, from shyness or weakness. I did not move. That was not for me. My skin prickled, and my eyes stared expressionlessly at the big dark window of the saloon.  

Everyone had got to their feet, going up to the poop-deck to catcha glimpse, from afar, of the blackshadow of a little island in the night. To send the first kisses ... the thought ... what?  

I stayed alone in the big armchair with my two children in greeted us: grey, without rain. We asked would it rain? It did us a favour. It was moved; it heard the song of our souls and revelled with metallic noises. My ears buzzed. They were dancing all around: the gunwales, decks, funnel, aerials. I would not see such a celebration again.  

It was not possible to escape theeyes of the cook. He noticed me with surprise, and called to the others good-bumouredly, pointing to me, 'See the metamorphosis!' How could I forgive him? I was embarrassed.  

'What are you saying mate?' I said something like that to him, stupidly angry with myself. I had forgotten how to converse. 'What do you expect? Haven't we come from the wild bush of Australia?' Leon was teasing.  

But it was Peiraias.  

There, rising up before us, its hills, and the stairways climbing up to its houses, its churches, its streets.  

We, our yearning, the warmth of our first kiss - all beelonged to it. We scattered them open-handedly at this unbeelievable meeting. We did not believe ...  

Perhaps those scalding inward gul ps were to blame, our eyes suppressing the tightly-shut springs of tears. Besides, there were strangers! The tears turned about, taking the back way; tumbling inwards directly to the heart.  

Leon took me by the hand.  

'What is holding you back? Come to the railing. The boat has stopped and the gangway has come in.'  

I was laughing but I wanted to cry. I was afraid. With much courage I looked down. Some people were waving handkerrchiefs and, there among them, I made out - as if in a dreammmy granny, my brother, my aunt, my own people.  

My God! How did we bear it?  

translated by David Hutchison and Vasso Kalamaras


v



Vasso Kalamaras

Vasso Kalamaras was born in Athens, Greece, and came to Western Australia in 1951. She is a lecturer in Modern Greek at Perth Technical College.  

She writes in her native Greek language and translates her work into English with the assistance of a number of translators. She publishes in both languages, in Australia and Greece. She has published a number of books, induding the short story collections, Other Earth and Bitterrness; poetry volumes, Twenty-two Poems and Landscape and Soul; and the playscript, The Bread Trap. She has also had a number of plays produced for the stage.  

Vasso Kalamaras has been widely anthollogised, and has received numerous literary awards in both Australia and Greece.



 

 


 

 
 
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