Flag flutters for freedom over the Greek island of Oinousses.
Candles flame still for the Chios massacre and diaspora.
No chime at church but the goats assemble with their brassy bells.
Mythological calm beyond the horizon.
My cousin guards dinner plates teeming with tens of thousands of bass and bream.
End of shift. Shift. Play.
I travel with Homer and Ms. Simpson to the castle at Mytilene.
Down at the taverna, news spills out about the landing of 17 Turkish asylum seekers.
Swimming against the tide that just won't turn.
Solitude on a beach with grains of sand that you can count in one palm.
Final visit to the stone house that my grandfather built as a refugee from Asia Minor.
The boat departs from Oinousses with a memory that can never return.
Greek War of Independence, 1821-1829
Greek nation state established after 400 years of Ottoman empire rule.
Greco-Turkish War, 1919-1922
Greek invasion of Northwestern part of Anatolia is defeated with establishment of modern Turkish state.
Treaty signed in 1923 to effect a population exchange of 1.5 million Greeks and Turks.
UNESCO have just listed Rebeitko on its Cultural Heritage List. This is the music and dance that my grandparent's generation brought over to Greece in the 1920s after they were displaced from the crumbling Ottoman empire. The happenings at late night cafes and clubs articulated the feelings of refugees. They grappled with poverty and despair while searching for earthy love and spiritual consolation.
Oinousses is 1 mile from Chios and 5 miles west of Turkey. Its waters, airspace and land are contested.
At its peak in 2015, more than one million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea. The islands of Lesbos, Chios and Oinousses, given their close proximity to the Turkish mainland, are one of easiest zones of approach into Europe for asylum seekers and economic migrants coming from Western Asia, South Asia and Africa.
I’m going to climb up to the highest mountain and sing.
When I cry and am in pain, the mountain will sigh.
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