Lent 1989

Issue TenIssue Ten PoetryPoetry

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by Mary Chydiriotis

At the port of Mytilene

cinnamon filled pockets of air float past
along the waterfront a café sells Bougatsa

made with an old recipe 
known throughout the island 
the man with a curled moustache cubes and covers it in spice 
sweet and moist it fills my mouth 
releases its sugar and I’m high


A minaret in the distance 
a past place of worship
a facade remains 
a tourist stop a photo op 
it is empty

the call to prayer only echoes in memory


I walk along the narrow lane 

through a maze of nondescript stalls 
owners sit on milk crates 
smoke cigarettes
sell tobacco, chocolate bars, key rings 
Drachmas pass from hand to hand 

A large wooden crucifix 

leans sideways next to Agios Therapon 
weighty in sorrow 

mourners inside cross themselves 

light candles, smokey and pungent 
pray for healing 
an astringent taste in my mouth 
my lips gently touch the icon encased in glass


Faith creeps in unnoticed 

wildflowers in an unkempt garden

I turn back and buy 

sourdough, bitter olives, ripe tomatoes 

tangy pickled vegetables and halva.