You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed…
Time has scalloped and tightly crimped
the hill’s stone—all the troughs
and rifts of its flanks studded
with cypress, laurels. The Acrocorinth
juts into wind above the yellowed vineyards
and timber pig-sheds, the fish
like wands of garnet or black-spotted quartz
carving the shallows at Vrahati beach.
My grandfather’s people
[end page 115]
clusters of bitter-and-sweet jade fruit
from the vines, while time—like a god’s
hand on the hill—tapped off seams
of limestone with the rain’s pick, or pounded out
trenches with fist-fulls of hail, lightning.
In the village, pines drip
resin in the brush. I walk
dirt tracks where hens pace for seed. In dusty
gardens, in olive groves, the goats swank
oily beards, the hammered scrolls
of horns, gnashing thyme thickets—the Acrocorinth
pale as whey to the south. From here
I make out the old acropolis extruding
from the hill like blunted teeth; I probe,
till my eyes ache, for Aphrodite’s
temple, nesting somewhere in the high
ridges. The Corinthian Gulf flickers
down a north-east road, and I know
this evening the sun swill strut there like a peacock
trailing long feathers across
[end page 116]
the water. Soon, I’ll walk back
to my great uncle’s house.
He’ll empty wine from a barrel.
He’ll tell me stories of his brother’s fist.
I’ve seen the x-rays—my mother’s
dented wrist, forearm—all the fractured
bones. And I’ll think of those hands,
coaxing, on the vines; and I’ll think of a god
with a fist-full of hail. I’ll drink
the cool, bitter pink liquid, and currents
of sweetness will twist
through each mouthful.