My tan toes danced on cobblestone sidewalks – hugged by strappy leather sandals straight from The Leather Shop on the “corner” of Kampani and Drakapoulou – hopeless street names fumbling off my sunburnt lips. On the corner? It would be more accurate to say located on the seven-way intersection of streets curved, warped, and branched without appearing to have an end.
Zouganelis crafted the stiff sandals himself – Size 9 US means you wear a size 39 EU. But I didn’t need to know that. He molded rubber to resemble the sole of my foot, he blanketed the rubber in leather from Cyprus, he slit the supple animal hide shoving in three oiled straps. He hit on my sister, saying we looked like Charlie’s Angels.
We weaved through contorted streets on foot – a maze of whitewashed buildings adorned with blue shutters – Passed lobsters on ice and suction cup covered tentacles dangling from sailboat masts. The scent of Tzatsiki, intertwined with cigarette smoke, wafted from open patios that found protection under blush blossoms blooming on the canopied crown of the tree – and the sun crouched lower
in the sky. Narrow streets and tall buildings. Did we come from the left or the right? Meandering – lost with no intentions of regaining bearings – as we learned the difference between Καλησπέρα, Καλημέρα and calamari. Dark hair and dark eyes, a contrast from my own accompanied by different discourses seeping out from the impassable fissures between the buildings lodged together, but only until we saw the sun setting on the horizon – a waltz – a watercolor dance on the waves, choreographed by the sun.
As I ignored the thought of leaving the small island with evocative ambiance, I unlatched and wiggled off my sandals, sunk my toes into the sand – granules exfoliated tender skin between my toes – savoring final moments before I had to return to the boat, but
it was inevitable. Bleached hairs on my tan skin became splattered with salty sea spray as I watched whitewashed homes and storefronts, piled up like Legos on the cliffside, disappear on the horizon… But at least I still had my sandals.
From the Author on this Piece- “Mykonos” is a piece of poetry that allows me to share my passion for travel and cultural immersion with those who might not get the same experience. Traveling to Greece was an amazing experience where I saw a blend of culture and tourism. In this piece, I attempt to capture how it feels being in an unfamiliar place and feeling confused while also being in awe. If you’re like me when you travel, you never want the experience to end – some piece of you wants to forever stay in that moment, in that location, and never forget the emotions of unfamiliarity. The sandals in this piece, and the poem itself, have become representative of a piece of Greece that will always be with me.
To Teach or Not to Teach: The Taming of the Shrew
October 2019 Edition
“There are no beautiful surfaces without terrible depths.” -Friedrich Neitzche
Bold strokes of white light play tag on each crest that laps the vessel’s fiberglass walls. My reflection slowly sinks surrounded by icy, cobalt water like an anchor coaxed by gravity to its final resting place on the sandy sea floor. Freckled fingers clench cold steel like vice grips as saline spray refracts rippling rainbows into sultry air; The drops spatter my flushed gooseflesh skin partially protected by the fluorescent orange buoy– straps yanked and jerked then tied and tightened even further around my neck and waist so much so that dyspnea sets in. The waves, a metronome, synchronized with my labored breathing as seconds saunter by, and my eyes dart from the shrinking shore shriveling up like the shirt too long tumbled in the dryer, back to the stagnant horizon. Droplets come up to explore my cracking feet as if to say, You’re it. My toes are frozen to the lurching deck, glued to the warping wood and sealed to the peeling plastic, yet my freckled fingers manage to loosen their grip on cold steel as I begin to climb up and over.
From the Author on this Piece-"“Tag” is a piece of free verse poetry with lines mimicking waves that explores the depth of human thought, actions, and fear. During high school, I took a vacation to Greece where we were on a ship for multiple days without seeing land. Recently I went through numerous medical tests which led to a medical diagnosis that seemed to be heading in a negative direction and is still unresolved; the way I felt while grappling with fear and the unknown during testing reminded me of how I felt while seemingly trapped by water in the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, the two events became a metaphor for each other in navigating life and overcoming being frozen with fear."
“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” -John Banville, The Sea
Embossed appliques jut out from the milky border as if tendrils of English Ivy wrapped themselves around the oval frame, withered, and turned to wood. Its ornamental ridges, frosted in lustrous silver, radiate endearment and warmth through the two smiles in the virtually faded image. She had soft dimples. He had hazel eyes.
I touch the glass over July 7, 1968 scribbled in the corner, run my fingers over the woman in the antiquated lace dress, slide my palm across the man with the striped navy tie, and
suddenly I twirl a lace-trimmed linen skirt– the balmy sun illuminating yellow hair that dangles near the ribbon knotted around my waist.
I tend a fenced garden in a verdant backyard– the man who wore the striped navy tie chases giggling children under the bows of a lofty linden tree.
I don an apron, sprinkled with flour– the smell of freshly baked cinnamon bread wafts from the warm oven and heats the gelid house.
I sway in a long church pew– the words of How Great Thou Art grace my coral lips before being carried up to the exposed wooden rafters.
I nestle up to the man swathed in chenille blankets on the couch– the snow tumbles from the sky muting the twinkling lights outside the window with white varnish.
I kneel beside the rigid handles of a hospital bed– the man piled in sterile blankets lifts his shaky hand and slowly reaches for mine; a wrinkled reflection of the couple in the withered picture frame on the bedside table.
A woman’s reflection stares back at me in the picture’s glass. White hair skims her shoulders which are covered in silk pajamas– creases pull down at the tapered corners of her tear-stained lips and carve into her freckled forehead. Dimples like caverns on a pale crumpled landscape.
From the Author on this Piece-"“Antiquated” is a poem inspired by elderly figures in my life in combination with personal life experiences. In this poem, the speaker imagines being brought back in time to a younger version of herself while looking at a past picture of her and her loved one; however, when the speaker awakens from her fantasy, she is brought back to the reality of spending her last moments with her loved one in a hospital room."