Because of Evia, Greece

(a small unravelling of John Donne)

No island is an island, though each tragedy is itself,
the photograph of a man finding his dead sheep
after the blaze has passed his home,
firefighters in a forest
burned down,
the source of the resin
that is the island’s livelihood.

Firefighters come from so many places,
historic enemies even,
naming Evia  
part of the continent of human life,
and the world watches.

Your loss diminishes us,
say Turkey, the United States,
Albania, Russia, fighting their own fires.
Your fire drowns us, say other islands,
(also not islands)
waiting for tropical storms,
depressions, hurricanes,
and also the flooding places,
and those with the heat that kills.

And, like each handful of dirt,
each rocky promontory of grief,
each broken, buried, burned home of a friend,
as the old poet mentions,

is each elder, each adult, each child
who dies of coronavirus,
leaving a footprint
on earth,
our island held by its star.

Evia, Greece, photo pre-fire

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9 Responses to Because of Evia, Greece

  1. You amaze me, my friend, in your gift of having your finger on the pulse of the world. I marvel at the way you know about global tragedies in detail from places large and tiny. You call our attention to places we don’t know about and, in your lovely prose, poetry or prayer, you broaden our tiny horizons. Thank you. This post was especially meaningful to this Greek girl.

  2. Nancy Donovan says:

    “Ask not for whom the bells toll ….”

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Maren says:

      … they do, and we so often clap our hands on our ears. Hopefully, also the joy. Sometimes I think joy or good fortune is clutched too much, too intensely and not given away as well.

  3. Lovely and poignant poem, Maren!

  4. Thank you again for your prayers of compassion for the world. I love the first line and its John Donne resonance which adds another dimension of universality to the lament.

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