A Poem: An Olive Grove in Crete, 1941

Each summer, I spend time in Greece doing archaeological field work and thinking about historical landscapes that stretch from deepest antiquity into the 20th century. Certain events in the 20th century have left indelible scars in the Greek countryside and on our collective spirits. David Pratt’s short poem, which appears in NDQ 86.1/2 connects an iconic image of the Greek landscape, the olive grove, with a moving reflection on our place in time.

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An Olive Grove in Crete, 1941

The priest stood alone.
He had a white beard and wore his round black hat.
They had taken his pectoral cross.
He took his white scarf from his pocket, and put it on.
His wife, in black, watched in silence with the other women of the village.
He stood as if this moment was just one more moment.
And to him, it was.


David Pratt’s poetry and short stories have been published in over 100 literary journals and his op-eds have appeared in national newspapers. His latest books are Apprehensions of van Gogh, and Nobel Laureates: The Secret
of their Success
. He lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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