The History of Too Much

There is too much here, the sapphire, the thistle,
the oregano blooms in June, everything extravagant –
the rich peat of what decays, the ruins that don’t decay,
these especially are too much, the temples and statues
in their stark marble glow, that simplicity which is not simple at all.
This sheen of time, the wear of wars, the famine years
of Occupation, lucent as the columns standing stoic, Doric –
their weight has whittled the people: the weight of that antiquity,
of those stones, the grandeur and pride – too much
in this moment, this present crushed by the evidence,
the result of living with beheaded gods, and maimed still
beautiful torsos, the muscled limbs in chipped robes.
They plague our dreams, what was once achieved is now
incomplete, these pieces of the golden age aging
in the midst of traffic, too much, the yelling and honking,
the protests in the middle of everything – people are impatient;
how can anyone be patient, overwhelmed as they are.
Even the oregano’s thick perfume, the sapphire sea, remind people
of extravagant loves and sacrifice, while here, now,
ghosts live on as gods and their impossibility.

Adrianne Kalfopoulou is the author of two poetry collections, most recently, Passion Maps (2009, Red Hen Press). Her essays and poems have appeared in Web del Sol, Hotel Amerika, WLT, and the Beloit Poetry Journal, among other publications. She is on the faculty of Hellenic American University, and teaches in the creative writing program at NYU.