Cycladic cycle

Every morning the old man rode past our terrace window,

rode side-saddle on his donkey, his body swaying with the motion of his beast.

Sitting high, his eyes level with ours, sent greeting (his language was not ours)

or a nod of his small capped head, a smile, a toothless grin.

Was there more to be said?

In a strange land it is hard to come at understanding. Hard to know one's place, look to the unfamiliar: the surrounding green and umber hills laced with sinuous threads, hand-arranged stone walls chinked through centuries of building and rebuilding.

She sold vegetables

and fruit

in a tiny shop. Her dark hair framed darker eyes, clear skin.

There was an aura: beauty, fruit reflected.

We stood a time dazzled in our purchase,

loath to leave.

Under night skies relives the day through scent of garlic and of thyme, mind touching the wild poppies lithe, translucent, the myriad tiny purples pointing a carpet, side by side marguerites and asphodel. Again the senses reel. A weight of stars and one is pervious, disarmed, embattled with delight.

Fold and folds of net, the color of gold or Parian wine,

brown fingers ply the twine, old needles of wood

mending the net, closing the gap so that the once caught

are caught for good.

There is salt in the sweat- lined face. Enmeshed,

like the fish.

The sea if it is blue at all is difficult to remember, of a blue that in this light, in this air blinds the eye. Under an afternoon glare, the sea is a sheet of steel set between shores. It is difficult to forget a sea that in its clarity proclaims itself the only sea there is.

Spring announced itself more than a promise after the rain. It came assailing the fields, brought droves of flowers. Winds parting the wheat in waves anced blue at the edge of the shore, tossed and shoved the caiques against the quay, called out green and gray and deep blacks all in one day. Who could say with certainty, what color?

Behind dark glasses jaunty cap movie-star posture,

icons, trinkets, do-dads surround him at the wheel.

Intimacy, security, small replica of a Greek home.

Across narrow twisting roads, he drove in reckless abandon,

a Byzantine God in his pocket.

So to understanding. Under a foreign sky there is no guide, no answer, one's own fenced-in thought cinched tight to habitual soft.

The world one brings works through clay-baked soil, gives chance to bring the calloused soul out of bondage, out of the bondage of the templed word into a new dimension.

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