Monastery of Theoctistis

Kalliope Poulianos

They brought your bones here
made a furnace behind the church for everything that can burn,

carved out earth
beneath sandstone boulders to house your relics.

One online review says
friendly dogs and a chapel with a god-made roof.

Inside they painted
scenes of hell and carried you through wasted fields.

They even sold
your water, my miracle generating mother.

In life,  
a thousand pirates trapped you in Mytilene  

but you escaped, clever Theo, and  
when you died on an altar in Paros, priests thought to take you home  

but the sea turned white  
so stopping at a port was the only thing to do—  

Little traveler,  
word of your cargo spread and they stole you twice  

hid your femurs  
in a cave until someone dreamt up your whereabouts,  

used demo stone  
and ancient color from a looted temple to build you into ground. 

Of course,  
everything is lore except the concrete, that is,  

the couple who helped  
me spell my mother’s name when I left a coin and asked for prayers,  

the pine floor outside  
rattling underneath my shoes and the cicadas too,  

inventing sound
until the wind from the north struck them to silence.


Kalliope Poulianos is a poet, essayist and screenwriter. She earned her BA from Skidmore College where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets College Prize. She recently received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts, where she taught Critical Studies. She is working on a lyrical travel narrative set in Greece that navigates the dilemmas of modernity and loss. She lives in Los Angeles.

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