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‘Athenian Light’ by Kostya Tsolákis – Primers Shortlist 2017

I was born into it in late
September, when it’s sweet
and hued at sunset like
the seeded flesh of figs.
Smog meddled with it
at the time, hanging over
Athens like bad history.
And growing up,
what use was lyrical light
when stuck two hours every day
in an airless school bus,
my biggest concern the gum
stuck in my hair by one of the
back row boys? But having spent
half a lifetime in England,
today I bathe in it by a rooftop pool,
swallows above me like musical notes,
the broken jawline of the Parthenon
within sight, and I love how it brings out
the veins in marble and the arms
of men. I watch the child in the pool
learn how to swim, wearing, just like I did,
orange inflatable arm bands.
I remember my father’s insistence
that you can drown even
in the clearest of lights.

Kostya Tsolákis is on the ten-person shortlist for Primers Volume III. ‘Athenian Light’ is from his shortlisted manuscript MULBERRIES AND PLANE TREES. We’ll be showcasing the work of all the shortlisters writers over the next two weeks, so check back to read more poems.

Kostya was born in Athens, Greece, in 1981. He moved to the UK in 1999 to study History at the University of Warwick, followed by an MA in Writing, also at Warwick. He lives and works in London.

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