There is a sign for a missing Jack Russel Terrier
yet no one pays attention as there is bottled coke
baklava and a semi-dormant volcano
that, long ago, sunk the island into the sea:
The black nipple of the Cyclades.
Donkeys slump in the heat, with tongue out
like thick taffy waiting to be stretched.
Children are crying in spoiled misery
their parents in desperation, begging enjoyment
from the saddle that wrenches their innards.
Looking down, I hop from stone to stone
left, right, left, right
piles of donkey shit, some hard, some soft
ooze over the marble curb cut.
Two women pass, gagging, with collars pulled to cover their faces.
To look over the cement railing, to peer onto cacti
blooming in the fresh June heat
is like debating suicide
and I think of how hateful the pain would be
as a woman walks by in high-heels.
Higher onto the cliff, the sun has blocked out
the horse, donkey, and mule piles
leaving a perfect, thinly spread path
of burnt grass, brown from equine acid
and by the trampling of a thousand morose hooves.
A woman assists a 90 year old man
to a resting spot shaded by a flowering tree.
He sits briefly, then stands butting his head on a branch.
Laughing indefinitely, he continues up,
his grin is all the reason
to climb these six hundred steps.
M.C.--Santorini, Greece. 2007.