Poetry Journal

Issues / Volume 5 Issue 2 , November 2015


The Zenith

Jena Woodhouse

  Beneath my balcony, nerantzis breathe their bitter-
  sweet perfume that blends nostalgia and spring 
  to haunt old Athens neighbourhoods;
  locals shout their morning greetings, all as if they’re
  hard of hearing; church bells clang, and canine strays
  volunteer gruff commentaries.
  The mansion on Apollonos has orchards
  fruiting on its roof—olives, citrus, laurels
  crowd like spectators at balustrades;
  roses crane their necks to get a clear view
  of the street below, while the mansion’s
  genteel occupants remain invisible.
  On the corner opposite, limber laundry employees
  apply themselves with such zeal to the steam-
  pressing of shirts and sheets, the rhythm of their work
  resembles choreography: a pas-de-deux with ironing
  boards, agility of hips and waists; their torsos in white
  cotton shirts flex gymnasts’ chests and shoulder blades;
  deft hands reach out to empty sleeves as if
  in an embrace; steam condenses on The Zenith’s 
  windows like a water wraith, transforming 
  it from sweaty corner laundry to dance studio,
  transmogrifying routine tasks to ergonomic art.
                                        Athens, April 2015

(nerantzi: bitter-orange tree)