A Long Finish of Fruit

Where Words Go

by Becky Dennison Sakellariou

Becky SakellariouATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—3/5/12After 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 meditation on fruit-bearing vines.

A meditation on fruit-bearing vines.

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.)

About Becky Sakellariou

Becky Dennison Sakellariou was born and reared in New England, but has lived all of her adult life in Greece. Of late, she has been “making her way home” to New Hampshire, where she now spends half of every year. Writing since she was seven, Sakellariou has published poetry in a wide variety of journals. Sakellariou has written and published poetry for many years; her chapbook, The Importance of Bone, won first prize in the Blue Light Press (San Francisco) competition of 2005 and her full-length book, Earth Listening, was published in 2010 by Hobblebush Books of Brookline, NH. In 2013, Finishing Line Press (Tennessee) brought out her chapbook, What Shall I Cry?, which was followed by a two-year long collaboration with Greek poet, Maria Laina, for The Possibility of Red/Η Πιθανοτιτα του Κοκκινου, a bilingual edition of eleven of her poems, also published by Hobblebush Books. In 2015, Passager Books (Baltimore) brought out her art/poetry book, Gathering the Soft, a meditation on cancer illustrated by Tandy Zorba. Sakellariou’s latest book, No Foothold in this Geography, is a collection of the last five years of her work. Sakellariou has won a number of prizes from individual journals and has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Anthology. “At present,” she says, “I am madly in love with my three grandchildren; you can find me either in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where I am endlessly amazed by the clouds, the snow, the trees, and the power of memory; or in Euboia, Greece, where I putter around my one acre amongst the olive, fig, almond, pomegranate, lemon, apricot, and eucalyptus trees, drawn by the senses and the mystery of place.”For a compelling introduction to Sakellariou's work, read her blog entry at "Off the Margins."
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2 Responses to A Long Finish of Fruit

  1. amalia melis says:

    becky what a wonderful moving poem…i love it…are you in greece now? i need to find you to ask you something…very important…can you contact me by email or through diana???? elizabeth if you can get this to becky i would be very grateful….

  2. Helen Noakes says:

    Becky, thank you for evoking those part of Greece that still reside in my soul. As for finding your way home, it seems to me you have more than one.