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THE LEGEND OF THE SOUTH AEGEAN ISLANDS

Our memories

The life we lived or did not live is hidden among our wrinkles

Our memories dig trenches of tears and laughter, to remember not to forget!

Memory lives inside legends that have not been told Stories that have not been written… Forgotten traditions…  Narratives of storytellers that know secrets of madmen and kings, travelers and gods, ghosts and men…

All that is hidden inside minds that never age…among the waves and the rain…among the wind and the fire… inside particles of those yet unborn…in hearts beating differently and souls traveling with their sails torn and intact yesterday today now!

Our memories

Walk on walls where knights walked, in alleys that Giants visited, in paths that the girl followed running to escape the pirate, on a sandy beach that God promised to the mankind…

Whole Greece is a memory that lives inside the bodies of women who tell stories while embroidering with multicolored threads their wrinkles their legends

Women in black with callused hands that have caressed plowed, kneaded, smacked with love

Women in black headscarves over their white hair that they let down at festivals, embellished with flowers at weddings and braided at funerals!

Mothers that breastfed their babies milk for the very first time to turn them into heroes!  

Mistresses that quenched the salty taste of foreign places of many captains with their mouth!

Wives that feasted on poverty every night satisfying their appetite with the leaven of love fermenting in the eyes of their loved ones!

Daughters that prepared ritual food to mask the anger at the memory of their parents that migrated only to get lost in the Aegean Sea!

The Aegean

The South Aegean with its 48 islands

48 wrinkles on the face of Alemina from Symi…with the Monastery of Michael the Archangel!

Alemina, whose name means fairy

Alemina, who has no age and never counts the time

She only gathers wrinkles and stitches on the embroidery that never ends… the embroidery that her granddaughters, who have 48 rips on their jeans showing off their fresh, rosy…scented flesh, want her to explain to them!

-Tell us grandma what are you embroidering?

-A legend, a story, a timeless dream a shadow whispering at night to a moldy wall built from shells, telling him never to be conquered like I was, a memory riding a black horse in the darkness of the night fighting waves… like the ones I fought

The eternal lady of the islands lets out a sly laugh like a little girl

Her baby blue eyes that have all 36 shades of the Aegean blue in them are fixed on the wooden chest opposite her… the chest of her secrets… the chest of her sighs as she calls it... years… months… days… moments to the daughters and sons she gave birth to!

Only our sea has 36 colors…

Light blue for love..

Dark blue for migration...

Turquoise for the journey… leading you to a white thread… an elaborate stitch…that creates SYROS!

Syros, the lady with the two churches of St Nicholas, one in Ermoupoli and one in Ano Syros…

Shadows living at night share secrets that have not been whispered… enveloped in the morning haze…

About the Red House that owes its scarlet color to the blood of the family of Reizis that used to live inside it…

Their shapes turned into ghosts… just like History who dresses in Greek colors and searches, along with the mermaids, for Alexander, the blonde mortal God!

This is the place where pirates first came across a mermaid…

This is the place that the Gods, who will not live and die like humans, envied first…

The sobbing and the squeaking of the furniture are the lustful envy of the Gods inside the old manor of Syros where death and love become one… as they should!

Love lives in Syros…

It smells of rose flavored Turkish delight… it is rosy like Marina’s breasts from “the Great Chimera”, it is the steps at the wealthy neighborhood of Syros that you climb up towards God!

-And what does God want from us, grandma?

Alemina remains silent… She stands up slowly and takes out of her closet a box of Turkish delight… red and white sweets sprinkled with powdered sugar.

She offers them to her granddaughters to eat and fill their mouth with sweetness and sweeten her own dusty – yet not from powdered sugar – heart… and change thread!

A thread like the one Ariadne offered to help defeat the Minotaur…

A thread that turns into a compass, a lighthouse, a beginning and an end!

Salvation…

-A thread that leads to NAXOS… because that’s what God wants, since you want to know… To remember the Gods of yesterday because you are part of their truth, a part of their lie!

The Gods may have been humans after all...

Maybe Dionysus fell truly in love with Ariadne in Naxos…

In Naxos, where a constellation was born...

Little did Ariadne know, when she fell asleep exhausted from the storm that gently, yet at the same time forcefully, led her to an island so different from Crete, that a God would fall in love with her closed eyelids!!

And what a God he was!

Dionysus!

He woke her up with the sweetness of wine, the haste of the fermenting must, the maturity of the wooden barrel guarding the sacred fermentation and turning it into a divine daze of bodies moaning!

He offered her drink in a golden cup and placed a golden wreath with Indian jewels in the shape of nine stars on her head! 

A gift from Aphrodite and the Horae who do not count the centuries but the moments!

A gift for their wedding…

A gift as bright as love that the gods placed in the sky over Naxos and named it after her!!!

-Really, grandma?

A star that is a gift of love?

A star that will never fall for us to make a wish?

-Do not make a wish upon a falling star, child… Do not make a wish for the one you love on stars that died… But on life that sinks like a flame in water and does not die out!   

Make a wish on the sunset of SANTORINI!

Alemina changes thread and pushes a red one through the hole of her needle!

She caresses the embroidery and her stitch turns into a ship taking her to Fira, to Oia, to Imerovigli…

To the moments of a love forever etched in memory as time stops!  

Time is a secret that only few have the honor of learning and interpreting!  

Time stops only when the sun sets… when the sun sinks into the sea – the soul of a woman!

This is the undocumented moment when you fall in love, when you rejoice, reminisce, hurt and seek after something!  

It is the moment when only the sun can dive all the way down to a seabed hiding the ancient Atlantis...

The Santorini caldera seduces and deceives and lets the dwellers of the lost land live out their life undisturbed hidden underwater…

Waiting for the sun to reach their hiding place… to shine its light on them, while we play hide and seek with our desires at night!

Like the way PAROS and ANTIPAROS have been playing hide and seek for centuries…

A game where you do not close both your eyes counting, but only one of them like a Cyclops!  

How and where could a giant possibly hide in a world full of miniatures?   

It is painful when you cannot find a tree to sit under its shadow, a home to welcome you back, an embrace for you to fit in, a cup to help you quench your thirst…  

When you can only live in a cave… building stalactites drop after drop… wondering what it feels like seeing the world twice… and getting angry at the resourceful Ulysses, whom the faithful black-eyed Penelope is waiting for back home, weaving him on her loom, turning him into a saga and a lyric poem!  

And being jealous that you are not that small to get to play hide and seek not among two islands but in a woman’s embrace!

You chase him… throw a stone at him that falls into the sea wanting to kill him… to kill your sorrow that you were born a giant in a world of small men!   

A rock that will always attests that we are all made of stones… descendants of Deucalion and Pyrrha!

Stones like the SMALL CYCLADES. They are said to have been stones thrown that could not find a soul to live inside them and give birth to men and women. So, they became sacred places where the wind never ceases to blow… where love and the soul are hidden… waiting to become heartbeats!!!

Stones like MYKONOS, a white shingle where Hercules buried the giant he killed during the Gigantomachy… where even the Cyclops would want to be buried if… if he was hurt by love…    

At the rocky place that the wind has carved and turned into a grave for Mykons, the son of the king of DELOS, who was the son of a God… the son of Apollo!

The blonde God turned wind into music… then, man turned wind into power building windmills… turned the wind of change that tourism brought to the island into wild partying… the island that whispers to Delos at night sharing secrets of Hayreddin Barbarossa… secrets about the vampires living inside the whispers of yesterday!

Pirates like Kasilivas that roam around Sapionera!!!! 

-Do… vampires exist, grandma?

-Many exist today… Sucking the blood of nations that deliberately forget their roots… That don’t know that memory resides in the soul! 

Cohabits with the mortal body and the heart…

Listen to your heart, girls… learn to listen to it…

The hearts of Greeks beat as one… every nation’s hearts beat as one!  

Like the hearts of brothers…

Like ANDROS and Mykons, two brothers who fell in love with the same woman!

The firstborn planted plenty of oak trees all over Andros trying to drown his sorrow, making this the greenest island of the Cyclades… his love living forever in the trees…

Yes! Unrequited love resides in tree trunks… the strongest… loneliest… strangest… kind of exiled love there is…    

The oak trees of Andros are the immigrants of love!

Alemina sighs and pushes a green thread through the hole of her needle continuing to embroider… even though her eyes are filled with tears… blurring her vision… as she herself had once loved and turned her love into a votive offering under the vigil oil lamp… into a prayer to an icon… into incense right before it falls upon the heart at night!

Like TINOS… the island of the Virgin Mary, where a woman in black from Symi promised, at a young age, to love… another woman in black, who knew how to love!

Our Lady the Virgin Mary!

Tinos, which doesn’t beckon you like Mykonos, doesn’t show off her ancient charm like Delos, but waits to be discovered like a hidden miracle!

The island is a letter sent to man by God… that’s why cloud stamps always cover its sky, as the island fights the winds of prayers of those who believe and send them to the sky in a white envelope!   

The shredded darkness of a tortured soul that lights up before the golden votive offerings of an icon! 

Tinos with Tsiknias, its tallest mountain where Boreas, the god of the north wind, wept for his sons that Hercules had killed…

The fury of the Greeks always turned into wind. So, Boreas let his tears turn into Etesians, as well as south and west winds… blowing hard to this day… blowing inside it… demanding justice and redemption!

Greek winds have sworn never to beg!  

Winds… doves… white dovecotes…

Anger and purity… always… hand in hand!  

Alemina’s hand bleeds as the needle prickles her skin… as her soul sinks into the mist… Just like Tsiknias that always hides in the mist so that no one sees that the souls of both men and women hurt the same way…  

Souls… winds…

-Why are you crying, grandma?  

-It got windy, my girls!

-What are you talking about, grandma? There is no wind at all!

-Winds are blowing hard inside me… I feel Boreas’s pain… we humans will never understand death and death will never understand us! 

We will never understand what it means to live as if you are dying and die without having lived!

Only in MILOS people know how to explain death… to treat him! 

If the rest of us celebrate on national holidays, Christmas and Easter… they celebrate on their local holiday called “Triti ton Skolo”… a day when priests and commoners chant together for the souls of the dead and the church bells ring cheerfully, not mournfully… because death is a celebration for those who know how to live!
The swing makers made swings using beams that they erected at each village square… girls embellished them with flowers and met with boys there… as nature is reborn their eyes meet… looks full of promises… playing the only game that life can play with death… LOVE!

-Have you ever been in love, grandma?  

Alemina stares at the wooden chest opposite her once again and sighs...

-Maybe… I may have vowed loyalty to SIFNOS with its many white churches… Maybe the Virgin Mary, the patron Saint of the island, is the bride placing white rings on the fingers at her church of Panagia Chrysopigis by the sea, only to create the cyan waves of the Aegean!

Maybe people living there still communicate through smoke signals… through fire!

The residents of Sifnos know that their island is a place where the past meets the present in a moment… through an engagement of yesterday and today! 

There are 76 fryctoria watchtowers, one after the other, on the island of the celebrators of time that come to life every year on the Sunday of Pentecost… ancient Greek networks of communication… Put down your cell phone, my girl… People carry the 4 elements of nature in them… they are meant to talk with fire… to become fire… turning their words to smoke and making the sky their paper… making the flames their ink! 

- And how are we supposed to communicate, grandma? How are we supposed to let our minds travel without the internet? 

-Just like I do… with my threads! My colors… my memories… being guarded by a lion like the one of KEA, also known as GIA!!!  

-A lion? Is there a lion, too, in the legend you are embroidering, grandma?   

-Yes… Kea is the island of the Lion… that chased away the nymphs hunting mortal women and wanting to be like them, 600 years before Christ!

They envied the home of those women that the fireplace kept warm, they envied the warmth of a man’s body next to theirs, the warmth of a touch! 

Blood that flows never stagnates… but the nymphs let their dreams stagnate in lakes and rivers… until the Lion chased them away and the people of the island carved him into stone to express their gratitude… leaving him there to lament in the years to come the island that served poison to Socrates! 

Yes… the poison he drank came from this island, as the law there stated that when you reach the age of 60… you should drink poison and move on to the afterlife before your time comes… so that you do not burden society and your family anymore…

So they set up a feast for death and laid out plenty of dishes on the tables where they’d serve themselves only death…   

Yes, it was right there, among the laughter and the wine… where they drank the poison to take them on a boat to the other side with… coins over their eyes! 

On IOS, however, you pay coins as a fee not to carry death across the water… but love!

What was black before turns white now… the poison turns into a kiss…  

The single girls of the island make the “armipitari”, a salty pie that shows them the man they are going to marry!     

Love… death… the “anegardos”, a special rod of the loom, and the “fotares”, the tradition on the feast day of St John the Baptist that revealed to every single woman the name of the man she was going to marry, are the only things standing between them!

These are secrets that a mother whispers to her daughters, my girls… secrets that locked the heart and threw the key into a bottomless well! 

Secrets that made a cyan talisman at AMORGOS with its eerie beauty… 

Gatsos wrote a poem about it. “With their country strapped to the sails their oars suspended in the wind, the shipwrecked slept tame as dead beasts on sheets of sponges”!  

Both the houses and the verses are cube-shaped in Amorgos… dry-stone walls and stone mills that turn the heart into leaven to produce the sweet-smelling bread of love!

A love that lights the vigil oil lamp of the Monastery of Panagia Hozoviotisa every night…

According to the legend, a small boat with no one on board brought an icon to the island… “This is a miracle!”, said the locals and started building a church… But they were building it all day long and it fell apart every night… like all manmade works always do in the end!  

The man is hanging exiled from Heaven for ever and for nothing!

The desperate priest knelt in his black habit to pray in the darkness of the night… and as he raised his eyes to the sky… he noticed a steep rock where the bundle of a worker was hanging by a nail…

So, they started from that nail and with that bundle of hope on their shoulder…

A nail that’s still there 900 years later!

Alemina knits hastily two more stitches on the canvas… and sighs heavily…

-You should hang every picture frame of the things you love opposite your heart with a nail like that… letting your soul see them as she passes by and rejoice! 

You should never betray the castle of your soul, the way KYTHNOS was betrayed and saw her castle fall…

The Castle of Oria that, according to the legend, would have never been conquered fell because another “Ephialtes”, just like the one who betrayed his homeland at the Battle of Thermopylae, seduced the beautiful Oria and convinced her to open the gates!  

“Many where the castles I’ve seen, but never have I come across a castle like the one of Oria”, as a famous folk song claims!

Never let them conquer the golden castle with the silver keys inside you, my granddaughter… never!

You hear me?

Alemina gets angry and changes thread again in haste… a grey, angry thread this time… she uses a different kind of knitting stitch now knitting her pain… traveling to SERIFOS… getting on with her embroidery… trying to forget that her soul had been conquered as well, by two black eyes and manly looks!

Eyes that turn you to stone, if they have never loved you… that dry up your soul, just like when Perseus met Medusa on SERIFOS…

On the barren island where the Gorgon Medusa lived, who not only dried up the natural landscapes of the island but also the ones we keep inside …        
It was fear that turned you to stone… fear always freezes you… turns you to stone!

A gaze empty of life… a gaze that has given up on life… 

Bring me a Perseus with a sword to cut the tentacles of my fear, so that there is nothing that can scare me anymore and… be afraid of me!  

People who live half a life and hate… who leave hope behind scare me!

People who get separated like MILOS and KIMOLOS… that used to be one island…

An island white from the color of the chalk that is extracted from it seeking a blackboard to document its truth!

The Argentiera, as the Venetians used to call the island due to its silver-colored rocks!

-Use a silver thread now, grandma, like the color of your hair that has turned silver like the moon that’s looking for a silver cup in the sky of our Legends tonight!    

The moon of our islands that will turn into a square, so that a boy and a girl can dance the “sousta”… 

Untouched by lies like FOLEGANDROS, the untouched island!

The fairies dance there every night and steal babies and children that are infatuated with their grace and beauty!  

They sucked the life out of them… stealing the years to come…

Stealing tomorrow today is a dishonorable thing to do!

Babies that would soon haunt the cave of Chrysospilia, like the residents of Folegandros who suffocated to death after a pirate raid!  

Female pirates and Fairies… raided the oxygen… the breath… the sighs…

Each song beginning with a sigh…

The Fairies’ sighs lead our embroidery all the way to SIKINOS…  

Folds of a fabric where creatures from fairytales live, a Greece hidden by the lights of the big city, with natural inaccessible paths leading to the nowhere that’s hidden inside every one of us! 

The Fairies of Sikinos were not interested in the youth of babies. They wanted to make the singers and violin players of the island fall in love with them... young simple fishermen that were caught in the web of beautiful ethereal women!  

Men you slept with those creatures of the air and then… woke up crazy in the morning as they could never love another woman again!

“They had kissed the beautiful fairy”!

Love is a fallacy!

Stealing the kiss and driving the mind to the most logical madness!

How can you protect yourself?

Where can you go?

What can you hide?

Is there anything you can deny or renounce in a festival where you get to be the multicolored ribbon of the traveling peddler?  

You and a song!

The song of ANAFI…

The only island that came out of the sea? With a song! 

The song of Apollo who played his lyre and a lifesaving ray of light during the storm created a place for the Argonauts to find refuge in!   

The islands that are born of music are beautiful…

The notes that offer salvation are beautiful…

It’s beautiful to be offered bread and honey by the Argonauts who seek the Golden Fleece of your devotion!

You should try the honey of AGATHONISI!

An island full of pine trees and thyme…
Even the fabrics absorbed the island’s honey along with the imperial purple dye to enchant the bodies they would envelop filling them with passion!       

The island with the underground caves… A world under its world… untold secrets that only shadows dare to whisper to crumbling walls built from shells!

Like the ones you used to collect, my girls, when you were little at CHALKI!

I used to call you queens but never told you that a true queen lived on that island. She was called Aretanassa and was exiled to Karpathos when her king died…

The queens always get exiled after losing their kings at a game of chess…

Checkmate…

And Aretanassa took her own life when she was left all alone…

What’s the point of collecting shells at the beach on your own if there is no one to listen to their song with you?

Loneliness hurts…

A purple thread of grief and the embroidery keeps coming along… it won’t be long before it decorates Alemina’s sofa…  

The sofa where she lies dreaming for years now, so that her dreams stay warm under the blankets… so that they are safe and stay with her… so that they won’t go away…

Because… the exiled, expelled and migrant dreams are bitter!

Like the ones Anezoula from MEGISTI had, when she was stolen in 1440 by the men of Jelal el Din and taken to the East, her black eyes filled with tears, as she would never see the cyan waters of the Aegean reflecting in the cyan eyes of her beloved Stefanis!     

So many were her tears that they left a trail for the seagulls to follow… to the sea that’s filled with tears of men and Gods! 

-Do men and Gods cry the same way, grandma?

-Yes, my love. You have not yet shed tears of pain… the tears of a storm of the soul are thunderbolts that strike the earth… like the thunderbolts that strike Kastelorizo…

Remember the things I’m telling you, my granddaughters… this is our tradition…

The melodious lullaby of your mother, our dances, our customs, our songs, our poems, our embroideries like the one I’m making for the dowry of your tomorrow!

Keep those treasures intact with pride in your hearts and impart them unto the next generations…

This way we’ll always hear clearly the beating of our land… this is the only way… like the “rock” of TILOS…

See? This is a stitch that comes from Tilos… the islanders used it on the embroidery of their shirts… 

These were the shirts they wore at the festival of Agios Panteleimonas where they sang… “Ai-Panteleimonas, doctor and professor, you’ve mended many broken hearts, do the same for mine”!!  

A tear runs down Alemina’s cheek onto the embroidery, onto the brown part that is the rock of Tilos… making the fabric wet… filling it with the transparent scent of a woman’s tear whose heart is aching… hurt from love… built with the trowel of love!

The hunched lady in black that grew old with a young heart turned her love into a votive offering throughout her whole life!  

A votive offering to the church of Panagia tou Harou at LIPSOI…  

Where on the day of the Annunciation people collect lilies from the fields and bring them to the miraculous icon…

6 months later, at the Novena of the Virgin Mary even though the lilies have withered, like the hearts that are not watered with hope, on the eve of the celebration all of them come back to life on their dried up stems… 

Everything turns into life at this church… of death…

Death… life…

Between them lies a dream that we see when we are awake…

This sleepless dream is a sigh spitting lava…  

Like Polybotes’s sigh, whom Poseidon had imprisoned in the volcano of NISYROS!
His every movement, his every sigh of loneliness created an earthquake!  

What’s an earthquake, my love?

Heartbeats… shaking you inside… making the foreign land where your migrant love lives pulsate!

Love is a captain looking for a haven like the one of KASOS with the whitewashed houses…

An island somewhere between the Eastern Aegean and the Libyan Sea, where people become your friends with an improvised “mantinada”, as you clink glasses together!

The melody of the Lyra flows together with the “souma” drink in your veins and then your soul flows inside the waters of your prayers at the chapel of Panagia Potamitissa inside the cave of one thousand secrets from prayers of girls, who fell in love with a sailor!

The Virgin Mary, whose icon traveled at night and returned every morning always salty, aching, burdened from the sighs of migration! 

Was she swimming? … Was she flying? … No one knows…

Like ASTYPALAIA, the butterfly that wets its wings in the sea…  

Gorgeous, multicolored, erotic… mistress of Poseidon and sister of Europa…

Dressed in red, like all mistresses over the centuries… she was also called Pyrra, meaning fire, because her soil was red!

She drank poison when the God of the sea left her and became a place for the Carians to live in… but she vowed never to offer them poison and that is why no snakes ever lived on Astypalaia… 

Only butterflies and pheasants and seagulls… anything that was born free flying like passion… where nothing crawls like shame, like a mistake!  

-I, too, have made many mistakes, my girls… my name… is a mistake… a beautiful mistake of fairies like the Aleminas and the Augustinas that were the fairies of SYMI!  Of my homeland!

Evil fairies that envied women, who let the mean fall asleep on their breasts-on the pillow of their youth…

Fairies that longed to sleep with males that danced the “syrtos” at festivals… that smelled of tobacco and wine and had a taste of salt on their lips, the salt of a kiss!

Fairies that roamed free at night and stole the shirts of the men of Samos enchanting them, toying with them, making them forget the black-haired girls they loved and lust after dreamy, ethereal fairies!

-And what did the women do, grandma?

-Made votive offerings of gold and incense to the Virgin Mary – a woman… to break the spells and the effect of love potions…

Evil was always fighting with good…

Like Kynops, the sorcerer who lived at PATMOS…

Kynops had the face of a dog and was outraged when he heard that John the Evangelist was exiled and lived in a cave 4 meters below ground.   

He challenged him to a duel and demanded proof that God really existed…  

He asked of him to resurrect a man from Patmos, like the way Jesus was resurrected… but John the Evangelist got mad… disbelief always gets a person mad… and used his true faith to turn him into a rock!

This is one of the rocks of Patmos!

Another one is the rock of Kalikatsou, where people offered libations to Selene, the goddess of the moon…

The moon… a rock in the sky… a moonstone blowing out candles of prayers at the Monastery of St John the Evangelist that was built like a fortress!

A stone that frightens you and soothes you at the same time at KARPATHOS… the island of ghosts, whose heart always loves and remembers…

Memory resides in the heart and it was there, at the chapel of Agios Konstantinos where a guy, who was abroad for 10 years, met his friend Konstantis…  

Joy and laughter and teasing…

Two best friends meeting again can only bring happiness…  

“Come on, let’s wrestle like when we were kids… let’s bring back the memories of the strength in our hands back then, my friend, before you left for foreign lands”!

And they wrestled…

Right there, at the edge of the cliff and their souls…

And their black hair became tangled reminiscing their celebrations together at festivals with Lyras playing, when their youth shined like a “kolaina”, two rows of gold coins on the neck of a Karpathian woman in the traditional outfit of the island!

But, as they were wrestling Konstantis knocked his head on a rock and died instantly…

A killer who didn’t kill… is guilty of two counts of murder…

And the guy from abroad run gasping for breath to his mother, who was dressed in black, at the village of Olympos…

-Mother, I killed my friend Konstantis… mother… mother, help me…

The mother embraced the killer and cried both out of joy, as her son had come back to her, and out of sorrow that her son had come back from abroad having lost his sanity, as his friend, Konstantis, had been dead for 40 days… The young man had died 40 days ago, falling off his horse and hitting his head on a rock… his black hair turning red before he turns into a ghost haunting the land and a church where passers-by light candles in his honor!    

Supernatural creatures, both he and the fairies of LEROS, the strigas of Gialos, to whom midwives offered onion lives, so that they didn’t harm the babies that hadn’t been baptized yet, and they turned them into gold coins!  

Fairies like the good ladies… delicate, blonde and beautiful, who hide in fig and walnut trees… who hesitantly visited the threshing floors where farmers worked in the summer wanting to make the men fall in love with them, marry them, build a home and have a kid with them that they would forget and leave behind, running out the door and never looking back at the speed of light before it was even 40 days old…

Away… close by… where they came from!

To KALYMNOS, maybe… to wash themselves with the sponge of a sponge diver, a diver to the bottom of your deepest ego!

An ego that hurts and cries when it is left all alone, without a “you” to keep it company…

Like Gialou, who was a beautiful, happy woman who got married at a young age and had a beautiful, blonde baby, who was breastfeeding love…

A day when the sun never rose, however, conquerors came to the island and took her baby that had never heard a lullaby till then, along with all the beautiful, robust children… 

Such was her pain that she climbed up to Spilios near the cemetery of Agios Mamas and jumped down the cliff…

So, she became Gialou of Spilios from then on, a ghost of the night that stole beautiful babies and cursed them with her evil eye…

-The embroidery is almost finished, grandma…

-Hang on, I have to use a blue thread against the evil eye and a green one, like the leaves of the Plane tree of Hippocrates at KOS, who bears the name of a queen… and is a queen herself!

Daughter of Triops II… she was gorgeous like the island and healed the souls of those who laid eyes upon her with her divine beauty…  

She was a healer like Hippocrates, the physician, whose oath all the doctors around the world now take… she was a healer like Eros who helped Uranus make love to Gaia in the cave of Aspropetra giving birth to the Giants!

-It all sounds like a nice fairytale, grandma…

-Fairytales are not always nice, my girls…

They have knights on horses and damsels in distress, but they also have dragons and beasts…
Like the dragon living in Mal Paso at RHODES… a dragon that didn’t let anyone reach the chapel of Agios Stefanos to pray… that snatched children and old men, knights and lads who were aspiring to kill him! 

The Grand Master Helion de Villeneuve forbid any more attempts to kill this scaled fearsome creature fearing he would lose more able men… Only Dieudonne de Gozon defied the order and asked for a leave heading back to Languedoc, his homeland, and practicing for a year… honing the technique he would use to kill the beast…

365 days later, having the instructions of his father in mind and his faithful dogs by his side, de Cozon fought the dragon, as if he was a dragon himself, and pierced with his sword the belly of the beast… the only part that had no scales!   

He became a Grand Master himself, taking the place of the old one who wanted to punish him for defying his orders…but, once the people love somebody, the rulers must forgive… whether they want to or not!

The head of the Dragon was placed over the Sea Gate and when the brave knight died in 1353 a headstone that read “here lies the Dragon slayer” was placed over his grave…  

-Look, grandma… the red thread of the blood of the dragon completed your fairytale… it completed your embroidery, as well…

-It’s beautiful, grandma… A true centerpiece…

Alemina looks at it with pride… yes… it’s a true centerpiece with its 48 islands… and their secrets embroidered on it…

But there is one secret she kept for last… like a red thread wrapped around the spinning wheel and wet from the blood of the dragon heading towards the truth of the chest…

The lady of the Aegean stands up and approaches the sealed chest… the one she never opened… she caresses it gently…

She knows what’s inside it…

Her headscarf… the scarf of Alemina the fairy that the man of her heart stole from her 90 years ago, as she was dancing naked in the rain on a sacred mountain…  

On the hill of Filerimos, where a lighting struck down loved ones… where the secrets of the Gate leading to the fairy world are guarded by the frost…

She has known the gossamer headscarf’s hiding place for years… but doesn’t open the chest to take it and be free again… be a fairy once again… young and beautiful…

She doesn’t want to anymore…

She loves her 48 wrinkles

She loves the 48 islands of the South Aegean, she has made them her home she has become their home

Alemina will never open the wooden chest will never close her eyes betrayed by love she wants to become one with the Aegean turn cyan like its waters   

-Are you crying, grandma?

-I’m crying and you should know that the man who has power over your tears is the one who deserves to have power over your heart, my girls, my beautiful fairies

She embraces them she kisses them on the cheeks and then then she slowly, almost ritually, starts undoing the embroidery

-What are you doing, grandma? Are you out of your mind? Your work… The years you spent Your embroidery Why are you destroying it? Why?

-Because legends NEVER end!

 

 

ANASTASIA KORINTHIOY

 

 

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