Monday, September 14, 2009

Travels in the Wine Dark Sea: Greece

Parthenon, August 2009

"...whose land have I lit on now? What are they here--violent, savage, lawless? -- or friendly to strangers, god-fearing men?"
~ Homer, Odyssey, 13.227-29

I dream of olives now that I've returned from my travels in Greece. Olives and tzatziki and Mavrotragano wine. My Converse sneakers still hold dust from climbing Santorini's volcano and pebbles from trekking to Homer's Tomb in Ios. It seems wrong to disturb these stowaways before more walking naturally displaces them.

Ios, August 2009.

"The highest point a man can attain is not Knowledge, or Virtue, or Goodness, or Victory, but something even greater, more heroic
and more despairing: Sacred Awe!"

~ Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek.

What wild sensuousness is Greece! Never has a country made me feel so much in such truncated time. Total elation and awe to sit at dusk and take in the Acropolis and witness its entasis for myself. Losing myself in Athens' overly heated labyrinthine streets and feeling the deep effects of the Meltemi winds. Sailing choppy Aegean seas with vigor and child-like glee. Tasting and tasting and tasting: salty air, perfect olive oil, sweet crepes and bitter Retsina. Listening to Italian vacationers' non-stop revelry, the whir of motorini and ATVs, donkeys braying in cool night air, cruise boats bleating last calls in Santorini's cauldera. And the color, it is useless to try to describe it. It simply IS.

Imbibing Santorini's sunset, August 2009.


careening cliffs and departure --
i wheel into the cement vortex
and watch birds circle in the updraft.

seven there
moving with unfamiliar motive
and i feel a compulsion to point to the sky
and shout out interpretations:
"message from the gods!"

but there is nothing with which to acknowledge these signs
but words and they feel inadequate.

what to do?

i reach into history and sit,
imagining temple priests reading entrails and offering explanations
through the smoke and the smell which homer never describes.

i drink wine.

and like odysseus,
i follow the gray-eyed goddess home.

Oia, Santorini, August 2009.


i push my kayak to the cliff
and examine the barnacles which cling to the salted rocks,
establishing residence there.

this frontier existence begs study.

do they sputter for breath with each wave?
i pull my ear closer to investigate
but hear only the sea's rhythmic drone and sigh.

encrusted, calcified, persistent.
rough to my hands - sharp and determined shells.
hard to chip away so i don't try,
seeking to remain above the line of life's cruelty.

not often but lately i turn myself
to the rock hard chest of a lover
and cling hard during the certain uncertainty of life,
gasping as i go but resolute to survive
in this breath and in the next.

Sunset, Santorini, Greece 2009.

copper speckled light finds me
and i burst to dance and come out of myself.

one snap here and my foot stomps
in an alien rhythm of expression.

snap, snap.

i have no choice but to move
and to wheel and to follow
the mandolin in one
continuous splendiferous motion
of stacatto movement.



Aly said...

Yea, you finally got Greece! Sounds like it was as wonderful as you hoped it be. I knew it would be! Your writing made me feel like I was back there, gazing out at that indescribable blue water- thank you! Can't wait to read and see more

Kelly McGannon said...

Yea! Thanks, Aly. It was splendiferous and lovely and amazing. We'll have to trade stories sometime. Hugs from here, Stella girl!