March 2021

Back to Issue 9

The Mani

By Jena Woodhouse

In the Mani, you are simultaneously

ant and god, an angel in free fall whose eyes

can range where feet will never tread.


Here, the works of men are small,

villages are barnacles where hills heave

like leviathans above the sea, and summits soar


beyond all knowing, and ravines

plunge headlong through the olive groves,

past white cubes – kombolloi of bees,

the hives strung like an abbot’s beads.


Cypresses assemble in their sombre robes,

a priestly order. Stone walls almost graze the cheek

in streets too narrow for a vehicle.


This is a land a race of giants might wax

nostalgic for – gargantuan, primordial, 

another star, a site of awe: a topos


too syncretic and immense to comprehend,

whose lexicon and grammar

beggar human tongues.



*The Mani: a region of dramatic history and terrain

in the south-eastern Peloponnese, Greece.