Jul/Aug 2004 Poetry Special Feature

Athens Widowed

by Barbara De Franceschi

Athens Widowed

Yesterday I saw him dancing,
twirling an invisible partner
around his backyard.
Just for a moment he was young,
vibrant. Today he is back to being
a muttering fester,
this El Greco who lives next door.

Everything about him is feral.
Charcoal eyes chap and slap;
lines draw anguish across his face.
Overgrown beard dangles
with a pungent whiff of oregano
wafting from his souvlaki.
He muddles to the cemetery every day
carrying a bunch of wilted hues,
a jar of black olives, sometimes a newspaper.

Once a sailor, whittled fine by salty spray,
he is now the sea churned in a tempest,
murky weed from the bottom of the ocean
knitted into his navy sweater,
caked onto the leather of his shoes.
He wears his grime like an eraser
as though being scruffy and dishevelled
can wipe out his loneliness.


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