Way up, up, up there—sky level, is a town called Ambelakia. It is in Greece and it sits with the clouds, the world below a small toy. And bakers bake bread as bloated as balloons, and women make wine as sharp as pine needles, and children nap under almond trees fragrant with fall while I sit on a stone bench and talk with old ladies.
Me in English.
Them in Greek.
And what do we say? We begin with the weather. Warm, I say. Nice, I say. They repeat the words and nod. And we smile.
I never want to leave, I say. I want live right here, working beside the baker, collecting almonds with the children, milking the goats and feeding the chickens and eating figs and drinking wine and playing backgammon until late at night, the sound of the dice clicking against its wooden board. I want my face to age and crease and fold like theirs, I say, and I want to wear their dresses and plant their seeds and hang my White Cotton Sheets out under their Greek Blue Sky, and never ever take the road back down to the world where men in starched shirts talk of war and wages and winning things they have no right to own, and streets are crowded with cars and smog and poor-poor people who must beg for a scrap of food. To never go back where rivers run black with oil, and oil runs red with blood and blood runs forgotten and cold. And they, the women, these women who wear scarfs on their heads and aprons around their waists, nod and speak their Greek words indecipherable they tumble into my ears, work their way into my mind. On and on, they point to this and that, and pat my shoulder, and hand me a glass of deep red wine and we toast to our stories and our laughter and our wine, understanding not words but meaning. Pure and rich and true.