Hear me a moment. Laureate poets seem to wander among plants no one knows: boxwood, acanthus, where nothing is alive to touch. I prefer small streets that falter into grassy ditches where a boy, searching in the sinking puddles, might capture a struggling eel. The little path that winds down along the slope plunges through cane-tufts and opens suddenly into the orchard among the moss-green trunks of the lemon trees. Perhaps it is better if the jubilee of small birds dies down, swallowed in the sky, yet more real to one who listens, the murmur of tender leaves in a breathless, unmoving air. The senses are graced with an odor filled with the earth. It is like rain in a troubled breast, sweet as an air that arrives too suddenly and vanishes. A miracle is hushed; all passions are swept aside. Even the poor know that richness, the fragrance of the lemon trees. You realize that in silences things yield and almost betray their ultimate secrets. At times, one half expects to discover an error in Nature, the still point of reality, the missing link that will not hold, the thread we cannot untangle in order to get at the truth. You look around. Your mind seeks, makes harmonies, falls apart in the perfume, expands when the day wearies away. There are silences in which one watches in every fading human shadow something divine let go. The illusion wanes, and in time we return to our noisy cities where the blue appears only in fragments high up among the towering shapes. Then rain leaching the earth. Tedious, winter burdens the roofs, and light is a miser, the soul bitter. Yet, one day through an open gate, among the green luxuriance of a yard, the yellow lemons fire and the heart melts, and golden songs pour into the breast from the raised cornets of the sun.
We don't know if tomorrow has green pastures
in mind for us to lie down in beside
the ever-youthful patter of fresh water
or if it means to plant us in some arid
outback ugly valley of the shadow
where dayspring's lost for good, interred beneath
a lifetime of mistakes. We'll maybe wake up
in foreign cities where the sun's a ghost,
a figment of itself and angular
starched consonants braid the tongue at its root
so all sense of who we are is lost to words,
and nothing that we know can be unravelled.
Even then, some vestige of the sea,
its plosive tide, its fretwork crests will surge
inside our syllables, bronze like the chant of bees.
However far we've stumbled from the source
a trace of the sea's voice will lodge in us
as the sunlight somehow still abides in
faded tufts that cling to bricks and kerbstones
on half-cleared slums or bomb-sites left unbuilt.
Then out of nowhere after years of silence
the words we used, our unobstructed accents,
will well up from the dark of childhood,
and once more on our lips we'll taste Greek salt.