A Long Time the Place Was Empty

Where Words Go

by Becky Dennison Sakellariou 

Becky SakellariouATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—3/19/12

Estranged . . .
Estranged . . .

 Estranged . . .

“A Long Time the Place Was Empty”

from “Little Horse” by W.S. Merwin (The Carrier of Ladders)

Tonight here with you,
the place where my hand might rest
between your ribs
collapses slightly as you curl
up to sleep.
The skin folds softly,
no muscles tight or round
in the hollow made for my fist.

We no longer speak of the future.
The clothes of forty-two seasons
overflow the closets, lean
on each other for comfort,
a little frightened of time
and age and the possibility
of our arms never again slipping
into a sleeve or a silk lining
stroking our hot skin.

And still, each peach leaf
bends in on itself
cradling the last drop of moisture,
then, as light slides away,
enters the night, uncurling.

More Regarding Poet W. S Merwin:; and his phrase, “a long time the place was empty”:


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. Writing since she was seven, Sakellariou has published poetry in a wide variety of journals. Her chapbook, The 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 is No Foothold in this Geography. 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." (Author Head Shot Augment: René Laanen.)