The Light at Ligourio

For Dimitrios Smirlis

In the arbor at Ligourio, grapes grow round with sun
and, under the sun-drunk grapes, a family I love clusters:
my friend, Dimitrios, my dark-eyed student once; his mother,
earthy and true as Ligourio wine; his father, temperate
in the face of bureaucrats and weather. Grandfather, too,
and Great-aunt, sit in the shade of the musky grapes.

Time has ripened them to silence, or nearly so: each day,
they waken to sun, to the fragrance of light-drenched flowers.
They are like fruit growing sweet and still in the sunlight.
Time drifts more slowly, olive trees steep in the dusty heat of July.
Dimitrios sweetens, too, you can see this, though he is rooted now
in the burning hills of Athens.

Here, in Ligourio, the light reminds him that life is not a dream:
his family breathes here, they shelter beneath the grapes
that grow round and fragrant. His family ripens with the grapes
that cluster above them: you can see how they live here,
where peace also deepens, where quiet shadows sweep
the hand-hewn stones and white armfuls of stars gather,

as on a trellised vine that winds through the arboreal galaxies:
as on a vine that stems from the source of darkness and delight.


© Charles Fishman