THE GOATHERD, THE WRITER, HIS WIFE AND THEIR CITROEN DS.
Beyond the front apron of the little, immaculately white church that would look ramshackle had it not been lime washed last Clean Monday, perhaps 10 meters away, a stand of brutally pollarded mulberry trees has put on its summer leaf. Beneath the two parallel lines of 6 trees each side that are branch woven one into the other there are two rough hewn benches that are perfectly shaded now - only a scintilla of pure white early summer light minutely dapples the reclining body that lies there inert.
Behind the mulberry arbor another 10 meters the concrete ends with a broad painted kerb and beyond this the rock starts, and rises near vertically in protean lumps and crags. The cruel summer sun floods light onto the grey white rock faces and draws shadows as deep as a widows dress where here and there a glossy chestnut coloured goat can be discerned if one squints. A massive, slab sided, dirty white he-goat sporting an old testament length beard balances atop a massive crag seemingly looking down to where his goat herd rests. He is though, looking past the sleeping body and surveying instead the bright green foliage that leaks from the side window of the church.
The little church was built a long long time ago over the stump of a long dead tree. Nobody in the village can remember when the church was built or what sort of tree had once dominated this oasis beside the sweet water spring. Some old men sometimes spoke of their grandfather's grandfather's grandfathers having seen the tree in leaf but some old men will say anything with a few rakis taken. All that anybody had really ever known was that this place was blessed for centuries before the church was built there from stones hacked out of the rock face that today give it its backdrop. And then, last year, the tree came back to life.
The peripatetic priest had blessed it, claiming it for the Orthodox Church - not enough people lived in the village any more to justify a priest of their own. The old people suddenly revered it, proclaiming it miraculous. There are no young people in the village, and there have not been for more than 10 years. Nowadays the only time that childish laughter can be heard ringing in the village is when baptisms and weddings are conducted at the little church - it looks so quaint in the photographs. The villagers go there only to bury their contemporaries and to pick spring flowers to weave into wreaths on the 1st of May.
The graveyard, nearly full now, nearly bursting truth be told. faces north and overlooks the wide caerulean blue bay beneath. Old Pavlo tou Georgis had been buried on top of his wife rather than beside her this last winter and though the priest had been insistent that the gravedigger tell nobody the old folks had spent days checking paperwork, finding out how many bodies were already in the family tombs, discussing the problem in gruff whispers in the kafeneion. The photos and paintings on the massive marble tombstones have faded now and an air of unintentional neglect pervades the whole place. But on the south side fresh, fleshy, vital green leaves push out now through the crude stained glass. And the he-goat eyes it hungrily.