The Almond Tree Song

Where Words Go 

by Becky Dennison Sakellariou

Becky SakellariouATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—2/6/12—“Driving along once on some country road in Greece, I thought about how I would really like my death to be. And so the poem came . . . .”

Back to the sweet, Greek earth.

Back to the sweet, Greek earth.

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,

smoothing earth

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.



Photo: Zakynthos, by David Nutting


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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4 Responses to The Almond Tree Song

  1. Anita Sullivan says:

    Thanks so much, Becky, I can’t think of a more perfect way to go into death. I imagine this poem would sound beautiful in Greek, with all those flower and bird words that language does so well!

  2. diana says:

    You make dying sound so desirable. As for that photo, we should use it as PR for Greece. xoxd

  3. Anita Eveson-Peck says:

    Lovely poem, Becky! I remember talking to the Maltese sexton of the British cemetery on Corfu many years ago about being buried in a shroud, but I never made enquiries as to whether this was possible!

  4. Jill Yakas says: