Lesbos

by Liz Trew

summer 2016

Lesbos, where Sappho, slender and passionate
in a light robe leaves us fragments – love-poems
to her daughter, her women, her island

and poet Elytis says, I give my hand to justice
diaphanous fountain, sublimest spring.
I fly in to the airport named after him.

Refugees came in their thousands across
the Aegean. So many brought from war
by water, pulled out to safety
some crushed to death inside their boats
some lost – drowned on their journey.

Days grow hot at the edge of blue ocean
the blueness of longing.
Olive trees inland rise in green waves
the sage-green of hope.

Along lines of tamarisk trees
voices of Babylon on the hot shore
where a mother finds her four children dead
and another struggles to give birth

we villagers gather to receive,
the love of others our belonging

Dimitri of Hotel Aphrodite
flings open his doors,
Aphrodite his daughter dishes out food,
The Dirty Girls collect worn clothes
to wash and return,
Malinda of Starfish cares for the women.

The summer calm. Migrants on
their long walk.
Roads and shore almost empty;
a few slashed rubber dinghies
a few wrecked wooden boats.
Someone has put flowers in a hut
built of lost oars and pieces of flotsam.

I walk on hot stones
sink into a volcanic-hot ocean
rise to cool off and swim.
On the road inland
I fetch bottles of spring water
from the hill fountain. As the sun sets
the image of Mount Athos
appears on the fiery horizon.
The child sleeps
under the summer moon.

Days grow hot O Babylon
Tis cool beneath the olive trees

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