by Catherine Strisik
In puce fitting curves of my then slendered-
you served me goat stew at the square
wooden table covered by a red tablecloth
the evening my heels and my suitcase’s wheels muddied
from an earlier rain in Heraklion where I walked the labyrinth for hours.
I felt faint the humidity and my erratic woman’s cycles
in proximity to the goat
parts in my bowl with cracked wheat that had soaked and dry-roasted
for months in the sun.
I wanted to be stroked
moist with the Cretan Sea.
There was a candelabra
and a delicate revolution
in my mind between the want and the need.
Hungry like the line of tiny ants
that entered in and out of the decaying hole in the wall of the kitchen
though I had been mistaken before with the thought of being desired by other.
You served me goat stew −
what I’d never before eaten.
It tasted good.
Later we walked through darkened rooms dated from the Ottoman Empire
to the steep staircase to a room with a single bed and a light
weight blanket. All night I listened to the rumbling and hissing of cats,
their many torn voices.
The Soup, Magirίtsa
I taste their entrails
and organs their
sacrifice at midnight
as the lamb and goats
of Grevená bleat around us
hollowed where the consecrated contused
or faith, maybe
the butchered, scented with frankincense, and
myrrh and basil breeze
in moon spots, in my mothers’ homes, the egg, and olive oil
profile, the heart, liver, the lungs I yearn
even now, the lemon.
The well-looked-into eyes.
The dill chopped, and leaves of romaine.
The exhalation adore me, the livid
on breath, the wine itself. These mountains
are high enough to climb, felled aspens
laminate. My mother cleans throats
expectant as birth, metered.
Again, this morning, we gather, with dried tobacco leaves
crumbled inside pockets. Uncle Charlie, a small man, carries American cash.
Erató, his blond niece, pulls a beauty salon chair, curlers, and a hair dryer
all with her strong back. My grandfather, laughing, slouches
with the weight of his garden slung over his shoulder. The old
butcher, his most tasty cut. These mornings
they sit in dim light as I boil my egg.
A big stainless pot, reflection from every angle.
Grandfather, in love with the green vegetables, sings of the garden.
The butcher’s scarred hands play cat’s cradle. Uncle Charlie
embraces his American cash. Erató practices her English.
The yolk hardens. I wear my bathrobe open.
Catherine Strisik, poet, teacher, editor, Taos, New Mexico’s Poet Laureate 2020-2021; recipient of 2020 Taoseña Award as Woman of Impact based on literary contribution; is author of Insectum Gravitis (finalist New Mexico/AZ Book Award 2020); The Mistress (awarded New Mexico/AZ Book Award 2017); and Thousand-Cricket Song. She is co-founder and co-editor of Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. Her poetry has been translated into Greek, Persian, and Bulgarian. Her maternal grandparents were born in the Greek villages of Amygdalies and Trapezitza.