“Painting with words” – Tiamat

Questo racconto è il frutto delle preziose lezioni di scrittura creativa dell’autore australiano Arnold Zable, writer in residence al Collegio Internazionale Ca’ Foscari nei mesi di novembre e dicembre. Attraverso la tecnica “painting with words” gli studenti del Collegio hanno realizzato brevi descrizioni di attimi, persone e luoghi, dando vita a scenari profondi e suggestivi.


There is a kind of quiet power in an approaching storm, a looming dissonance bound to sneak into the subconscious and drive you outside. In steel-lighted dawns the cityscape loses its lines and angles, becoming a host for the swaying shadows of people summoned by smells of wind and copperish ozone. Often times I’m one of those cloudwatchers, climbing my building to the very top, atavically transfixed to Earth by the sky. I met him that way, on the rooftop of my condo. He was sitting still, casting no shadow in the dim, milky unlight, on a patchwork carpet as beat-up as he was, both of them frail and sturdy-looking at the same time. He didn’t turn around when I approached but he offered me a place beside him and there I sat, a student beside a sensei covered by a military issue coat, dirty and patched and smelling of metal and asphalt.

I couldn’t see much of his face, hooded and grey-bearded as it was, pointing skyward, but every once in a while a stray ray of light would puncture the cloud derma and reflect in his eyes, yanking them to life for a moment. I added my smokes to the grubby stash lying in front of us and we lit up, eyes fixed waiting for something in the sky. He began to speak, in time.

I never was much of a talker, but he made up on his side. With his deep voice, words slurred by alcohol and age and lack of use, he described the sky and all that was behind it, tracing an oral cartography of lightning yet to come and radiant winds soaring across the world wildly. He spoke of the awesome battles between djinns and angels in the guts of the clouds, tearing apart the texture of sky itself. Of painful thunder hurling itself through the boulevards, of the ur-storm creeping upwards from the worldwomb.

With drunken urgency he spoke, urged on by my being there as a listener, as nothing more than that. He imparted his teachings, at once delusional and self-aware, hanging to his own narration to keep a semblance of self. As the first raindrops shimmered into existence in the distance, he got up, still muttering of clouds and tears in the sky – of angst and sadness and metaphors, had I wanted to see it that way, and left.

With the regular, broken gait of limping people he entered the building and disappeared, leaving me the smokes and the mat I was sitting on. I remained there alone and, as I thought he taught me, let the storm tell a story.

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Mattia De Franceschi

Illustrazione di Lisa Vannini

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