Featured Poet: Becky Dennison Sakellariou, Peterborough and Greece
Becky Dennison Sakellariou was born and raised in New England and lived much of her adult life in Greece. She is now “making her way home” to New Hampshire to settle for at least half of the year. A teacher and mediator/counselor, she has recently published in White Pelican Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and Common Ground Review. Nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize twice, she also won first prize in the 2005 Blue Light Press Chapbook Contest for her chapbook, The Importance of Bone. At present she is madly in love with her three grandchildren and can be found either in Peterborough where she is amazed at the clouds and the colors or in Greece where she putters around on her one acre on the island of Euboia amongst the olive, fig, almond, pomegranate, lemon, apricot and eucalyptus trees.
Of her featured poem, Becky writes:
Migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria travel up through Iran and into Turkey (one young boy spoke of walking for two years) and then take old, rickety, wooden fishing boats across the Aegean Sea to any number of Greek islands along the east coast of Greece. The boats have holes cut in them deliberately by the traffickers which are lightly plugged with mud or bits of fabric so that the boats will start to sink once they reach Greek waters. The Greek Coast Guard then, by law, has to pick up the people; they cannot swim, and many drown before they reach land. Kalliope Lemos, a sculptor, found some of the boats abandoned on the beaches of a small Greek island close to Turkey, and used five of them to create a 15-foot high construction to commemorate these migrants. When I walked into the space where her piece was being exhibited, I began to weep. This told me that there was something important here for me to do. And so I wrote the poem. It is in both Ms. Lemos' voice and in the voice of a woman who might have been in one of the boats.
After an installation by Kalliope Lemos, 2006
I found the boats rotting,
scattered across the night beach of Inoussa.
Twenty six of them, hollow
of human form, abandoned to the darkened sand,
the wind, the salt.
Their occupants had fled to the hills, terror
in their mouths, their children
swaddled across their bellies,
shaken to silence, always thirsty.
Oh Mother my home
I cannot see you as we wake
in the morning, comfort
my skin with your hands, how
will I know
when to stop remembering
A woman in black sees them,
shouts, they crouch
in unknown grass that smells
of trees, sounds pierce
their skin, thorns
fill the sand beneath their feet.
They lie speechless, their tongues forced
to know nothing, their throats
to swallow hard bread soaked in salt and oil.
Oh God please
take me, my baby
I bleed, my skirts pulled up
through my legs, the smell of fish
stashed between the curved wooden planks,
their scales like lightning on the blue
I will gather these ships, split
into halves, broken
by fear and a long sea, built
by men who knew
the darkness of the other moon.
I will lift them into a temple
of voices thrown across nations,
a cathedral to the aching
spirit, yellow deserts of running
human shadows, outlines against the night
sky, despair and hope
spliced through the ribs, one breath
rising hard after the other.
Mohammed b. 79,
Abdullaha b. 60,
Kaea b. 78,
Ibrahim b. 69,
Motha b. 81,
Firas b. 90,
Hassen b. 82,
Ali b. 82,
Said b. 86,
Bahar b. 77,
Damba b. 65,
Habib b. 76,
Hossein b. 86,
Wassim b. 79,
Mozde b. 96,
Amor b. 86,
Brahim b. 84,
Moustapha b. 81,
Adel b. 86,
Ahmed b. 88,
Sarah b. 87,
Goulan b. 80
and hundreds and hundreds more.
For more information about Becky Dennison Sakellariou visit: