Ode To Rhodes

Littoral landing strip,
A Dodecanese feature
Where you’re never more
Than a mile or four
From the Mediterranean.
You used to take your life
In your hands
When runways
Were little more than
Extensions of beaches,
Where sand swirled around
The slowing propellors
Like a sarong around
Euros’s daughter’s hips
As they saved Sparta
From a routing.

We avoided the bland
Concrete carcasses
Where anodyne hotels
Made mockeries of myths
And air-conditioned coaches
Turned in circles like
Steel moths regurgitating
Flocks of tourists.
An embarrassment of
Englishmen splashed on the
Melting macadam
Display still to this day
An art-form
Of complaints to
Patient pencil-moustached
Fluent majordomos,
And competitive pool-side
Societal traits.
We left our luggage in the room
Of a traditional taverna
On the hill across from
The old town, the heat
Of the evening reverberating
Like gecko veins,
The soft distant hum
From ferry engines,
You wore navy blue shorts
And I thought that your hair
Would cascade over your shoulders
Forever, as long as our hearts
Beat with iambic blood,
With the scent of sea salt
And blue sun-lotion bottles,
You wore the torc and
A bracelet bought from
A shop in the shade of
A side street in Kos.

We learnt a few Greek phrases,
We praised the waiters
Who danced the syrtaki
And later served
Tumblers of ouzo on ice,
A meze of tzatziki,
Goats cheese and
Flatbreads with rice.
I dreamt that night of
Sailing with you to Kiribati
On a balsa raft, and when
I retraced the possible
Meanings from my sleeping
Subconscious travels
You laughed, the sweetest
Feelings ever reaching my ears
Before or since, we
Embraced and kissed.
You said you loved
My unabashed romanticism,
Unwrapping the towel which hid
The book you stowed all that way
To surprise me.

The following week we flew
To Instanbul, then Baku,
Then through lush valleys and
Chasms beyond to Kabul,
Where nothing since
Nor with memory’s bonds
Could transcend or refocus
Seven days of sandy bliss,
The bones of my mind return
With heavy loads
Across the sun-browned
Mountain-tops, through
Secret coves
And olive groves,
To insights of a timeless love,
Within a timeless Rhodes.