“When I dive into the writing of a poem, I am entering an altered state, inhabiting a world of remembering, reimagining and reconstructing that can transcend the world that already exists. In order for that to happen, I reach for the emotional components, the human pieces, the movement in the place or the event.”—Becky Dennison Sakellariou
Where Words Go
By Becky Dennison Sakellariou
Editor’s Note: I have known Sakellariou since our shared days in Athens, back before I knew—and perhaps even she knew—she would give her life to poetry. This column first appeared on Hubris in November of 2019.
ATHENS Greece—(Hubris)—1 March 2023—Poet 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. 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, New Hampshire. 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 No Foothold in this Geography, is a collection of her more recent work; her latest book is Undressing the Earth, published by Kelsay Books, which can be found on amazon. The poet 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 writing, read her blog entry at “Off the Margins.”
The Almond Tree Song
When I know that I am to die,
I will ask you
to lay me down beneath the almond tree
where I will drink translucent blossoms
and dress my hair in sheaves of gold anemones.
I will ask you
to carry me to the flower beds
where I will sink my fingers
into cracked winter roots,
breathe soft rotting pomegranates.
I will look once more at the mountain,
taste open sky, hear
a black bird’s high song.
I will ask you then
to shroud my body with blankets of sage,
sprinkle it with sweet honeysuckle,
slip me straight
into the dark ground,
no coffin walls to separate my skin
from the ancient hillside.
You will tuck me into my bed
as a mother would,
around my thighs, my hips,
the curve of my belly,
so that those who come to say farewell
will never have to know
that I have slipped away
into the nearby field of pale lilies,
singing a fresh song.