Tuesday, 13 October 2009

On the Island of Paros

Too long in the sun,
My admiration of Parian marble,
Disgorged onto the road,
Like chunky snowdrifts,

Thirst had turned my calves to pure alabaster..

Sun flailed my fair skin
Till I imagined it hung in ribbons
From scorched shoulders.

Ahead, a black crow
Fluttered above the track,
Next to a low whitewashed dwelling.

Shading my eyes with a hand, I peered.
The crow stretched out an arm and beckoned.

Not a crow but a woman.
An ancient Greek widow, in black gowns
Greeted me by clasping my hands between hers
As if enfolding them in prayer,
Before ushering me
Into her dirt-floored hovel.

At a plastic table, sat a beige-clad couple.
I joined them, and the old lady
Placed a glass of cloudy water before me.

The German pair,
(They had the caramel leather boots and bags
All German tourists wear.)
Seemed to sympathise,
With eyes fixed
On their own glasses, un-sipped.

An amoebic swarm
Flashed within the liquid;
Primordial soup.
I wanted to wait for evolution.

The old lady smiled
And nodded encouragement.
Her eyes lit by the strong sun
Striking through the tiny window
Into this stifling interior,
Were blue and cloudy.

I picked up the glass
And while the German couple
Looked on,
I drank.

I drank down my host's
Kind, hospitable eyes.