Saturday, December 19, 2015

Nocturne by Bieke Stengos (Cammaert)

Nocturne
Kyria Soula,
her breath sweet
with the aroma of anise,
draws in the scent
of hot jasmine that sustains
the lingering sounds
of her Mozart sonata

There was a time
when she danced
with the best
down at the shore of Piraeus
when she sang
into the hot
black night
when she longed
to twirl and swirl
and clap her hands
to the rhythm
of clear sharp sounds
that bounced from the
silver-toned bouzouki
into the starlit night

Closing the slatted doors
of her balcony, Kryria Soula
draws the sheer white blinds
While tomcats howl
underneath the rustle of
dry leaves, she lies still
upon her large empty bed

There was a time
when she whirled
high upon the white arms
of her daddy, whose uniform
glistened like the hot sun
on the deep blue sea
How he laughed
when he smiled at her
and told her, the last time
he ever saw her,
that she was his talented
sweetest little doll
How he kissed her
and fondled her
as if there never
could be another
for him

With the white sheers
swaying softly in the breeze
Kyria Soula's eyelids
close themselves
over the deep dark pools
of her salted tears

When she drifts back
to the call of children
on their way to school
Kyria Soula resumes her watch
as she sips the strong brew
left as a legacy by swarthy men
who held her country captive
Shrouded they were
in their own peculiar ways
Perplexing, like the men she met
on the boat from Brindisi
after she finished her studies abroad
From deep dark Calabria, they talked
of belezza and amore
while gazing deep into her
convent-sheltered eyes
They pursued her with a ferocity
that set her to run for safety
into the white arms of Kostas
friend and colleague to her late father
whose uniform shone
with the brilliance of the blazing sun

Promising a new life of excitement
no children, he said; no
children, said
she; until, he
said, we'll have travelled
the seven seas

But seldom home, he was
wedded to his work
until
he was seized
by a vile and disastrous illness
as he sailed from Constantinople
back to Athens
where she cared for him
until he died

Spent he was
and spent
she now lives her life
refusing
to wear a widow's black
refusing to feel the pain
of a life fraught with
such injustice

Striking her silk-skinned fingers
on the piano
she sends wails of pain
into an empty street

Kyria Soula only talks
to neighbours now, from
her high white balcony, or
she chats with the charwoman
who comes once a week
for company
as much as for labour
When she does go out
she scowls
at children, who throw stones
at weary pussycats
while she diligently steers
her shopping cart
to dodge the dog shit
that adorns
the shining pavement

Young she once was
young and unbridled
with her mother's wrath
as judgment
upon her wanton ways
Kostas knew
and he punished her
but no one else
had ever guessed

As the day draws to a close
and unusual clouds gather
with the promise
of much needed rain
Kyria Soula sweetens her breath
with anise
while her able fingers
grope ivory keys
to unveil never forgotten
melodies

Bieke Stengos is the author of two poetry collections, Abandoned by the Muse and Transmigrator. She has also published short stories and has a few novels in progress. She was born in Belgium, lives in Canada, and spends time in Greece. The wonderful part of having so many cultures in the mix is the rich texture; the hard part is finding a voice in English to make this come to life. You can find her work at her website here

“Nocturne” previously appeared in Diviners, A Journal for Women Writers, Volume 3, Issue 2, Summer 1998

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


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