Saturday, November 29, 2008
A Postcard from Crete
(i.m. Giles Gordon, 1940-2003)
'Icarus', you say, 'was clearly misdirected,
Waving himself to death in the Aegean.
He should have striven for the moon instead.'
You wrote from Crete, the fifth time in twelve years
The family had stayed at Rethymon.
'Far fewer Germans than usual, mercifully.'
Too hot to do much sight-seeing, you report,
But the children have been 'thrilled to be informed
That Zeus was born in a cave just down the road.'
'We're even giving Knossos a duck this time.
But wonderful flowers, vegetation, reading,
Food, wine, ouzo, raki ... Love from Giles.'
I turn the postcard over, foolishly
Looking for you, white-suited, on the boats
Crowding the harbour. You're not there, of course.
You're here in your own words, each scribbled sentence,
As you were always present in your words,
Filling them with your wit and despair
That words can never quite hold what we are.
Maybe you should have striven for the moon,
But striving for the sun you flew as far
As any other Icarus I've known.
I miss your laughter, Giles. This card from Crete
Seems now I look at it your last good joke.