Konstantin Kanelleas: ‘Melpomene’


The words I heard in childhood
Echo in my memory with the profundity
Of prophetic scripture.

An eight-year-old girl told my mother
That she prefers to wear black,
Before she’d borne the weight of grief.

The eighty-year-old woman who taught me Greek
Also taught me how to break the shells of walnuts
In her backyard, with whatever stones I could find.

Two of my grandfather’s final lucid moments
Were spent telling me of Alexander, and showing me
Photos of corpses in Athens.

Nothing went unremembered.
The longer I hear the voices of the shades,
The more harmonious their chorus becomes.

I sometimes wish to don the mask of Melpomene
And lose myself within the choir—I can’t,
I belong in someone else’s.

Konstantin Kanelleas

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