Pushing a Sofa up Mt. Everest

Where Words Go

by Becky Dennison Sakellariou 

Becky SakellariouPETERBOROUGH New Hampshire—(Weekly Hubris)—1/2/12—“Somehow, California and colonoscopies found each other in this poem, and then the sadness came, as it always seems to.”


“Pushing a Sofa up Mt. Everest”


From a dream by Mary Norbert Korte, poet, Mendocino, California


While waiting for the chicken to boil

so I can put in the rice

so I can eat this special soup-and-tea meal

so I can drink the awful Botania Phosphates

that will empty my insides out

so I can be ready for my colonoscopy

at nine tomorrow morning,

I found myself pushing a sofa

up Mt. Everest.

Or, at least, I thought I did.

It may have been the class system

that I was pushing against

or a terrible sadness about women

still furious with men, men

still confused about women.

Or maybe it was my daughter-in-law

who has closed her heart to me

or just the god-damned cost of living.


I don’t know Mendocino

where the poet had this dream,

having been to California only once

in 1991 when my sister got married

for the third time. The boys, with their thick

black pony tails, flew in from Cleveland

singing loud Greek songs

about mothers and sons

in the back seat of the rented Honda.

Peter refused to wear a tie

to the ceremony, although he danced

with my 79-year-old aunt Elizabeth

with the right amount of measured abandon

for a twenty-year-old.


I was speechless flying over Los Angeles,

so many little square houses, orange roofs,

busy automobiles, so many straight roads

going to and from each other.

I didn’t want to go there ever again.

I called Diane to ask

if I had to fly to LA

in order to get to her.

She comforted me with color

and light and a madrigal

on her cello, probably in A minor,

like the wind at Force 4,

a moderate breeze raising dust,

loose paper, and small branches.


I think of Diane when I stand

at my ceiling-high bedroom windows,

of thin branches on lemon trees

that vibrate faintly

like her bow.


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 Pushing a Sofa up Mt. Everest

  1. eboleman-herring says:

    Becky, your editor took the liberty of including a Mary Norbert Korte poem AFTER your submission this week, so readers might also get to know her work better.

  2. Heather Tyler says:

    Hi Becky, a lovely evocative poem. I remember you visiting me in hospital after the birth of my eldest daughter Kelly, and you made me laugh so hard I nearly burst my caesarean stitches. Best wishes.