In honor of Ritsos' Greece, from which so much of our culture flows,
here is the lighted Parthenon from my hotel window in 2008.
Today, putting away some magazines, I found this poem. In these times of "no-fly lists" and so much in the news about the overreaching of the people whom we have trusted to keep us safe, it struck a chord. I'm now in search of something a little brighter for tomorrow, since I'm so happy to be going to visit grandchildren for Christmas.
Just as he locked the door, as he pocketed the key,
as he glanced over his shoulder, they arrested him.
They tortured him until they tired of it.
"Look," they said,
"the key is your key, the house is your house,
we accept that now; but why did you put the key
in your pocket as if to hide it from us?"
They let him go, but his name is still on a list.
from "Three Poems after Yannis Ritsos"
in Poetry, December, 2012, page 348
I have had a poem by Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos on the blog before, but only once; here's the link.
Here is a link to a picture of Ritsos painting on stones.
And here is another link to someone else's blog with a fuller description of this activity.
And here is my poem inspired by reading about how Ritsos painted on stones when he was confined by the government in Greece. I sent the poem out, in the late 1980s, but I don't think I ever managed to get it published.
Baskets of Fresh Stones
He spent every afternoon and evening in the small room
drawing on stones: outlines of naked women, naked men.
Curled, backs outward, showing the nape, the shoulder blades,
vertebrae and buttocks hiding secrets below the belly,
they followed the shapes of river boulders; they crouched
in corners or in fetal piles by the table and bed.
Once he had finished drawing one, he would
rarely pick it up again. His brother, the priest,
brought him baskets of fresh stones from the river's bank.
And when she brought in his food she would stand
near the table watching him, compressing her lips
against a too rapid breathing, a sigh, or a moan.
She viewed him as he viewed them, focusing on his nape,
on the unnatural convexity of his backbone, imagining
his eyes. And when she knew she must fill her lungs again
she began a series of tiny rapid glissant steps
that took her unwilling body out through the door.