Below is the video version and below that is the text version of “What Does the Past Look Like?”
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“What Does the Past Look Like?”
Photos & Text by Douglas John Imbrogno
Piloting the Easter streets of the north Cincinnati
suburb where I did the meat of my growing up,
I make my way to the Catholic school enclave
where I spent my 5th through 8th grades.
A more Catholic grade school name you could
not conjure — Our Lady of the Rosary. Where, on a
bright Saturday afternoon, I’m surprised to find
an orange traffic cone propping open a first-floor
door. So, as one will do when invited by the cosmos
to on in, I do.
I stroll hallways where I once walked a half-century gone.
Lights out, the black-and-gray shadowed corridors
are like Old Master studies in chiarascuro.
Or maybe that’s my 64-year-old
adding a filter, as if from a technology
only a sci-fi dream back then.
Look, there’s my 5th grade classroom (was the
teacher Mrs. Gottesman?). Look, the hallway we
walked down to get to the basement cafeteria.
Look, the room full of a ghostly assemblage of
chairs that once served as our library.
There’s Jesus on the wall, hung on Calvary beside
a microphone teachers must use to herd the kids.
There’s Jesus hung in a hall, cradling a
child, looking like he just stepped off stage after
a solo with Led Zeppelin.
Here, now, is an old-fashioned globe
of Planet Earth. I spin it and could count out
the countries and cities I would go
to in the 50 years since I sat here — right here!
We were tutored by a sincere & hapless nun
we ran circles around.
Sister Mary Something-or- Another.
Outside, on the playground we dashed
like frisbees, here to over there.
Avoiding the bullies, hungry for friends.
Working out the wounds and
struggles we’d talk out with therapists decades
on. I stroll over to the church. Church of my altar boy
days. There, a cabinet full of surplices and cassocks.
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There, the great cross
whose decorative curlicues behind it
I’d try and count when the Gospel of the Word of
the Lord had let loose of my attention.
The hallways haunt me a little
back in the school, like looking down
a tunnel of time. But
I am glad the door is open.
~ Greenhills, Ohio | APRIL 16, 2022