Friday 13 July 2018

Chasmophytic Crete by Sheila Ash

Cretan Man
This is a tough land
Moonscaped roughness scuffs the skies
More stone than scrub
the high desert, Lefka Ori, lies
baked by day and chilled by night.

Eight thousand feet high Pachnes peaks
Beyond the snow capped summits
Griffon vultures soar and plummet.
In limestone crags
Rare Campanula and Helichrysum huddle,
Generations of sheep and shepherds struggle.

From these inhospitable heights, myths emerged.
A little East, where Rhea fled,
a god was born, his Curetes guardian’s drumming
thunders on in village streets
in the steady, sombre, Kritikos syrtos dance beats.

Well after mountain fog has burnt away
morning dew steadfastly slithers
down deep gorges scorched across the land
like notches from a bloody battle slain,
The landscape of hasty changes
From caves as deep as Hades
Canyons unexpectedly cascading
The flooding treachery of sudden rain.

To call this home, we cling to crevice and cliff
sure footed goats hardened by climate and geography,
In these impenetrable hills, rebels hid
to stubbornly repel all invaders –
Venetian, Ottoman and Nazi lords -
only to begrudgingly accept the tourist hoards
who leave their cars at Omalos
to take to mules to trek across
the cobbled Kalderimia tracks
before heading back
for ice cold beers in Chania.

© Sheila Ash, 2018

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