Neo-Hellene Poets, an Anthology of Modern Greek Poetry, 1750-2018

Poem by Miltos Sachtouris


I count the fingers of my severed hands

the hours I’ve spent on these windy roofs

I have no other hands, my love, and the doors

don’t close and the dogs are uncompromising.

With my naked legs deep in these dirty waters

with my naked heart I long (not for myself)

for a light-blue window

how have they built so many rooms

so many tragic books

without a shred of light

without a short breath of oxygen

for the sick reader

since each room is but an open wound

how can I descent the tumbled stairs again

among the bog and the wild dogs

to bring medicine and rosy gauzes

and if I find the pharmacy closed

and if I find the pharmacist dead

and if I find my naked heart on the window display of the pharmacy

no, no, it’s all over, there’s no salvation

the rooms will remain as they were

with the wind and its cane fields

with the ruins of glassy moaning faces

with their achroous bleeding

with porcelain hands opened towards me

with the unforgiving forgetfulness

they’ve forgotten my fleshy hands which were severed

as I was measuring their agony


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