This landscape is as harsh as silence,
it hugs to its breast the scorching stones,
clasps in the light its orphaned olive trees and vineyards,
clenches its teeth. There is no water. Light only.
Roads vanish in light and the shadow of the sheepfold is
made of iron.

Trees, rivers, and voices have turned to stone in the sun’s
quicklime.
Roots trip on marble. Dust-laden lentisk shrubs.
Mules and rocks. All panting. There is no water.
All are parched. For years now. All chew a morsel of sky
to choke down their bitterness… .

In the field the last swallow had lingered late,
balancing in the air like a black ribbon on the sleeve of
autumn.
Nothing else remained. Only the burned houses
smouldering still.

The others left us some time ago to lie under the stones,
with their torn shirts and their vows scratched on the
fallen door.
No one wept. We had no time. Only the silence grew
deeper still… .

It will be hard for us to forget their hands,
it will be hard for hands calloused on a trigger to
question a daisy… .

Every night in the fields the moon turns the magnificent
dead over on their backs,
searching their faces with savage, frozen fingers to find
her son
by the cut of his chin and his stony eyebrows,
searching their pockets. She will always find something.
There is always something to find.

A locket with a splinter of the Cross. A stubbed-out
cigarette.
A key, a letter, a watch stopped at seven.
We wind up the watch again. The hours plod on …

– Yannis Ritsos. excerpt from Romiosini / x

translated by Kimon Friar

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