March 2023

Back to Issue 13

Road outside Knossos at Dusk

By Jena Woodhouse


A crease in history’s crepuscule,  

this road outside Knossos at dusk –

the bulky turban of Mount Juktas, 

gastropod upon its heel,

base bejewelled like Ali Baba’s cave;

the crescent moon above it an ironic

diadem, memento of the Ottomans’ 

contentious rule; beside the road, two 

vacant Roman tombs in shallow cavities; 

the froth of half-wild olive foliage

softening the valley floor, riven by deep

clefts and chasms; oily dark stains under

foot from fallen fruit the tint of caviar.


Connecting the gashed valley sides,

a fine curve of Venetian stone – 

an aqueduct, pierced by the eyelet

of its graceful central arch.

Near the village, goat bells echoing

like wax dripped into water,

drowned by the cacophony of rivid curs,

their owners’ curses limestone-amplified. 


Past the Roman Villa of Dionysos;

past the excavation trench 

where archaeologists unearthed

a Bronze Age dwelling’s kitchen

with a cooking pot, containing

bones of children, shells of snails;

past the Villa Ariadne, almost lifeless

since the war, tainted by the tenancy

of kommandants; past Minos, the sickly

cat, brittle-boned and undersized,

who greets me like a lonely child,

arching his arthritic back –

tremulous with love, 

and overjoyed to be alive.


I recognise the silhouettes of two

low-flying, scouting owls,

before arriving at the empty house.