Travelling along the valley’s curving upper lip,
we transit steep slopes dense with hives
and trellises of vines, where goats are grazed
and olives flood dark nodes of fruit with molten
gold in places where the nature goddess
and her adorants were seen, according to
the evidence recorded on Minoan rings, dancing
in the sacred groves, venerating stones and trees.
To say the destination’s name (where I’ll buy
rouge pomegranates, where I’ll light a candle
in a church whose name is not displayed),
you have to exhale twice, then hiss: two heartfelt sighs
and then a kiss ~ Ar – ha – nes is a kilim woven
over fifty centuries from filaments of village lives,
blood and sinew, breath and bone. Today the coloured
houses hum in harmony, in autumn sun; the old men
in the bus all cross themselves as we pass wayside
domes – having gained the threshold to this alien
millennium replete with stories better not disclosed.
Arhanes presses close against the lower jaw of Juktas –
a mountain likened to a god’s profile, the face of Zeus.
Brimstone occupies the massive cranium beneath
old shrines – the sulphur that forms vital compounds,
and, as villagers will claim, emanates magnetic force –
a charisma none dares ignore, as votive offerings attest –
that captivated King Minos of Knossos and his court.