poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Sarah Browning


Lefkos, Greece 1971

Our red VW went rollicking
across the narrow chalky causeway
to Lefkos, the Aegean hot blue
and quiet on either side

A family van full of blondes
and me a redhead
on a mission
to see the father
of my father's colleague back in Chicago –

In the town square we found Constantine’s father
grinning in a tight gray suit
as he ran from his shop
to take us all in his massive hands

He sent us to his uncle monk
at a monastery high above the town
We sat under the grape vine
eating sticky Turkish Delight
then ran after the chickens
as the monks in black and beards
nodded politely to my mother and father

I had asked of course
Daddy why are we going
to see Constantine’s father?

he said
because Constantine can’t
Because of the Colonels

At lunch
in Constantine’s father's dark house
Constantine’s father fed us grape leaves
and lamb and heavy soft breads and wept
touched my face
held my father’s hand
and said at the last
You have brought Constantine
and his beautiful family
into my home


Sarah Browning is Director of Split This Rock, an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, Poetry Co-Editor of On the Issues Magazine, and an advisory board member of Foreign Policy in Focus. She is author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007) and co-editor of D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology (Argonne House Press, 2004). The recipient of an artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, she has also received a Creative Communities Initiative grant and the People Before Profits Poetry Prize. Browning was founding director of Amherst Writers & Artists Institute – creative writing workshops for low-income women and youth – and Assistant Director of The Fund for Women Artists, an organization supporting socially-engaged art by women. She co-hosts a monthly reading series, Split This Rock Presents, at Busboys and Poets in DC.


Published in Volume 13, Number 1, Winter 2012.


To read more by this author:
Sarah Browning
Sarah Browning: Whitman Issue
Browning's Intro to The Wartime Issue: Vol. 7, No. 2, Spring 2006
Sarah Browning: DC Places Issue
Sarah Browning: Split This Rock Issue
Sarah Browning: Museum Issue
Sarah Browning: Tenth Anniversary Issue
Sarah Browning on DC Poets Against the War: Literary Organizations Issue
Sarah Browning: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue
Sarah Browning on Lucille Clifton: Poetic Ancestors Issue