Poetry

Cyprus Vignettes

I

A rain-front, black as the local wine,

A drift of late spring snow glittering,

Climbed the peaks above Pera Pedi.

Its inundations left conifers

Spangled in beads of diamond water,

The roots of antique olive groves

Keeping the washed landscape intact.

II

Wandering through these weathered streets,

Sometimes the chalky limestone seeps

Conversation and the spiced aroma

Of family victuals at evening,

Theodorakis’s music welling,

Jewelled peacocks echoing in the valley.

III

On a mountain outside Lachi,

The grotto of Aphrodite’s Bath

Looks towards the Ottoman north.

The rising moon is a scimitar.

IV

Above Kyrenia’s limestone harbour,

Arid gullies full of bird-song,

The dapple of mountain butterflies

Is a kite-tail on the blue thermal.

And tattooed on the stony landscape—

A stand of purple rock-roses.

V

In a shaded cliff-face’s fertile clefts,

Aromatic herbs and shrubs blossom

Beneath the castle of St Hilarion,

Thriving against the ruins of History.

VI

By a highway leaving Limassol,

An elderly Greek, in shirt and tie,

Searches through the flinty scrub

For wild herbs and fragrant grasses,

Garnishes to an afternoon meal.

The nearby Roman ruins flute

And billow, full of ancient wind.

VII

The endless hand-stacked slate slab fences,

Defining the vineyard’s steep vectors,

And neatly hemming the carob groves,

Embody a callused labour of lives,

A prodigious ordering of the stones.

They hold the high hillsides back.

VIII

A group of vineyard workers,

Full of wine and goat meat,

Children joining their arabesques,

Dance in the crowded café.

One places his mobile phone

On a roughly hewn table.

They sing joyously into it,

For a friend in a hospital ward,

Cut off from all this life.

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