You want to flee, but flee where? The urban concrete elsewheredoes not seethe, does not breathe the scent of carob trees.Flee, you hear it everywhere, the taxi driver, the farmer at the laikitell you, Go! and are puzzled that you are still here,you who could actually leave with your American passport.Pack your clothes, leave behind the ruined lives, translate home intolonging, elsewhere you might lift your chin, live unburdened.The government, the Americans . . . no one cares, the taxi driver complains,and the farmer at the laiki selling you the sweetest pears, advisesto keep them fresh, Eat them cold, nearly frozen.He shakes his head, murmurs Ellada . . . , this ancient land of rock cliffs,seas that bleed their myths, Greece with its tales of flightand light, returns and rebirths, keeps teaching the stubborn human lessonstill: the gods won’t save you, neither will you stop wishing it of them.After all, you are human and they are not.
Copyright © 2019 by Adrianne Kalfopoulou
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Adrianne Kalfopoulou’s publications include two collections of poetry, Wild Greens (2002), a finalist for the Benjamin Saltman award, and Passion Maps (2009), and a collection of essays, Ruin, Essays in Exilic Living (2014), all from Red Hen Press. Poems, essays, blog posts, and assemblages have appeared in journals, chapbook presses, and anthologies including The Harvard Review online, Slag Glass City, Hotel Amerika, Superstition Review, Dancing Girl Press, Futures: Poetry of the Greek Crisis, and Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland.
“Adrianne Kalfopoulou's luminous chronicle of love and debt in the time of the Greek Euro crisis, A History too Much is powerful lyric testimony to the courage, humor, and brave resistance with which ordinary people faced augurs of loss in Greece, where the beauty of 'the oregano's thick perfume, the sapphire sea' remind them of a heritage of beauty and sacrifice, as the title poem puts it. ‘It felt so much bigger than me,’ says the speaker of the magnificent hybrid poem that caps the collection, an assemblage of the voices and visions of historic change, which is, like History itself, a tour de force.”
—Cynthia Hogue, author of In June the Labyrinth
“This is how the best contemporary poetry serves—as linguistic performance of an uncommonly attentive, empathetic soul making what sense it can of the vertiginous phenomena spinning before us. In terms of both content and style, these poems perform a necessary recognition of how the past is everywhere present, of how presence is ever imminent in what passes, and—most importantly—of how our every choice matters.”
—Scott Cairns, author of Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems