Black cassock hiding his feet,
he drifted onto the terrace
of this hillside café with its view
of the Laconian bay full of sunset,
and took me from politics at our table
to dim orthodox churches
and chapels of the last two weeks,
to ikons and frescoes,
those wide eyes of saints and scribes
that resurrected my altar-boy moments
of flickering candles, holy oil, incense,
and echoing quiet.
Our talk tacked like sails on the bay
as I watched him alone at the railing,
gold crucifix at his chest, long gray beard,
kamilavka crowning his head.
Far below were red-tile roofs, shadows,
the snares of everyday passion.
Turning from the rail, he passed our table
and looked down on me
from those ikons, frescoes, and vaultsó
reminders of sheer silence, thin places,
caves, hermits, and monasteries
high in the mountains.
Table talk returned to my ears. Cats
at my feet meowed for a handout.
Our talk was politics again
until loud voices and laughter had me turn
to a table where the priest
now sat with the owner and his friends.
Leaning back in his chair, legs crossed,
fine Italian shoes exposed,
he was smoking a cigarette,
arguing politics, and drinking ouzo,
just like me.
The room goes dark.
Candles become the evening news,
three wavering tongues
telling about stillness and
that bright moon in the window.