The thirteenth century’s major earthquake
resulted in a tsunami that buried
a bishop and his congregation, razed
the castle – a Byzantine fort – broke
the Roman breakwater, leaving rocks
like cracked teeth, rendered the harbour useless
for sea going vessels and reduced this once
capital city to a fishing village
which the odd traveller would visit
for the lustrous mosaics nearby.
On the corniche, watched by strolling tourists
and two armed Port & Marine policemen,
museum attendants on their lunch break
and taxi drivers between fares line fish.
The breakwater is like a uneven row
of shark fins against the silver waters.
The Greek Colonels invaded Cyprus,
in my thirties, then the Turkish ones. Atrocities
were committed, old neighbourhoods deserted.
In my youth, near here, in a villa
with a high white walled garden, British
Military Intelligence attempted
to deter young would-be terrorists
and waterboarded Cypriot teenagers.
The impromptu fishermen reel in
occasional gilt head bream and red mullet.
Whoever holds the rod, it seems, or pen
gets to make history.
ByzantineCypriotGreek Colonelsmilitary intelligencePaphosRomantsunamiwaterboarding