From the restaurant terrace on the cliff top
at Agios Giorgios, Cape Drepanos,
we can see the small harbour below,
its sea wall curved like a scythe and, opposite,
the flat topped, steep sided, uninhabited
islet of Yeronisos, ‘Holy Island’ –
set today in that special, placid blue.
Folk tales have Greeks, after the fall of Troy
and exiled from home, land there and build
a temple to Apollo. Excavations
suggest the sanctuary was founded
by Cleopatra for Caesarion,
her son by Julius Caesar, the heir
she hoped, to Rome – Apollo being the god
of archery, knowledge, medicine, plague.
A few miles south on what, before the hotels
and villas came, was a deserted shore,
Colonel Grivas, Greek Cypriot ‘hero’
or ‘terrorist’, landed one November night
in ’54 to expel the British.
The restaurant is packed with middle class
local families in their Palm Sunday best.
After our mezze, fish fresh from the harbour,
we tourist St George’s church along the cliff –
a modern chapel-sized basilica
with its own square and drinking fountain.
We light a candle, as we always do,
more ‘good deed in a naughty world’ than faith.
A steady footfall of true believers
kisses the glass fronted icon of the saint.
A votive pink baby doll hangs from it.
Fifty yards inland, where there are ruins
of a Roman city, is a medieval shrine
to the saint – once a prayerful place for those,
Greek or Muslim, before Partition,
seeking love or strayed goats and donkeys.
On the fountain is a crude mosaic
of the Roman Soldier/Christian Martyr
slaying a dragon with its devil’s breath –
in Palestine, perhaps, or Syria.
Three leagues south is Aphrodite’s Rock
where the goddess was born among the spume.
Nowhere full of myth and history,
of irony and contradiction,
delineated by paint on wood
or finds in the earth or words in the air
is far from here over the bluest,
most changeable of seas.
Agios GiorgiosAphrodite's RockApolloCaesarionCape DrepanosChristian MartyrCleopatraColonel GrivasGreekHoly IslandiconsJulius CaesarmezzeMuslimPalestinePalm SundayPartitionRoman SoldierRomeSt. GeorgeSyriaTroyYeronisos