They outnumber the visitors clambering
from coaches, the huge crowds of flowers peering
from gardens. We point at them nested in trees,
hammocked in net bags hanging from door knobs,
bedded cheek to cheek in baskets outside gates.
El Greco, who the inhabitants insist was born
in this village, is dimmed by their multitudes.
.Sevesdiana nods as she leads us into a café.
How eagerly a pair of weathered sisters
open their arms to hug her. How warmly
they greet us, her charges. How quickly
pressed orange juice, little breads and nescafé
are laid on a round table. The brown counter,
fading walls and metallic zigzags on the freezer
whisper the musty past but the talk glitters.
Before we leave we’re each given an orange
English supermarkets would boo and bin,
a giant orange with bumps, dents, niggles
and an offbeat attempt at rotundity,
a fruit quite unabashed by its rusticity.
In the blue morning light that’s swum
into our room overlooking Chania harbour
you and I each peel one – a mother-of-oranges.
I expect the pith to be thick, the heart of the matter
small and maybe tart, but the skin is thin,
pliable, the segments vast. Sprawled on the bed,
I cram one into my mouth. Its juice spurts
over the sheet and the tangy sweetness tastes
of Fodele’s trees creeping from the streets
to clothe steep slopes, of laces white as frost
and homewoven rugs hung from strings
to attract tourists. It tastes of a solid back
bending to scrub a carpet splayed on the road,
of the women holding out the sugared breads
that were blessed in church for a friend’s birthday.
It tastes – it tastes of those rare moments
when a silence suspends the ordinary
and the unattainable seems within in reach.
– Myra Schneider
© 2014, poem, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved; photo credit ~ Ellen Levy French via Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 3.0