Where Words Go
by Becky Dennison Sakellariou
ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—3/5/12—After a visit to the Semeli vineyards, this poem seemed to want to emerge and be heard. And so it did. It does, however, illustrate one of the areas where I move with EXTREME caution when writing with a setting in Greece: it is so easy to become cliché, to use the country as a stereotype for some kind of event/feeling. So it took me a long time to use Marathon, The Parthenon, etc, in this poem. I think I have only one other that actually refers to some of the very well-known historic/touristic aspects of Greece. I believe that those kinds of references actually make the poems weaker and take the attention off the meaning and the inner spirit.
A Long Finish of Fruit
The vines sit high
on the southeast slopes of Mt. Pendeli
where great slabs of marble
were cut from the cliffs
to build the Parthenon.
Lined up, row after row
like crosses in a World War II cemetery,
the vines stand sentry
to a steep slice of the valley
where, four thousand years ago,
men ran between Marathon
and the base camp with news
of ships, invasion, a possible truce.
On this day,
a wintry, chill January,
the sap, still suspended
within stiff, arched branches,
is waiting for the heat to begin,
the green to seek the light.
I learn about vats,
topping up the barrels,
maturing, crushing, fermenting,
wine that tastes like lemon,
dark chocolate and fresh-baked bread.
I hear words like Xynomavro,
Agioritiko, Moschofilero, grapes grown
nowhere else but Greece.
I taste the Semeli White,
glistening white-yellow with green lights:
an excellent long finish of fruit.
I hear the runners
still pounding across the hills.
(This poem was originally published in Common Ground Review in the fall of 2008.)