Did you take me for a Greek word?
Most do, but I pre-date the Greeks.
I used to describe a limestone plateau
where dusty snakes and small owls lived
with a people from whose mouths emerged
my extensive family. I miss the sound
of my original kin as I muck in
with this new crowd, biting my tongue
when I hear two or even three words stuck
together to describe skies my first family
got in a syllable – skies that occur at nightfall
in Attica after days of languor in late August
(you know the ones). But as I mourn the fall
in standards, I tell myself to be grateful
I’m uttered without nostalgia and remain
the name of this place. I’d hate to join Siam,
Byzantium, Saigon, Rangoon, Bombay –
beautiful words in various stages of decay.
Send Letters To:
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN
Please include name, address, and a telephone number.