They sell the Lassithi tour with pictures
Of miniature Don Quixote windmills-
Hundreds of windmills, one to a plot
A few yards square. But- disappointment-
Ride the coach to the high plateau,
And you’ll find the fields have been cleared of them
And in their place there are donkey engines
Shifting water round the canals-
Chug, chug, chug- to sustain the apples.
Most of Crete is maquis and olives;
Here they grow apples.
The Goddess Dicte,
Goddess and mountain, protects the plain,
Old as gods get, as old at least
As the knapped stone axes found in the cave
You’re climbing to by a zig-zag path
Through woods. You enter its wide mouth
And teeter down the vertiginous stairs
Through slick, striated, flesh-coloured rock,
Through overlaid mythologies,
To a cavern swagged with calcium curtains,
Lightless, cold, where it’s said that Rhea
Gave birth to Zeus.
Now Rhea is Earth
And really much the same person as Dicte.
Out of her springs- a Darwinian sport-
A god who can think.
Banging weapons and shields- bronze shields-
To mask his crying. His father Kronos,
Stupid, elemental ogre,
Prowled on by, and the baby lived.
Zeus: the keenest idea of the bronze age-
God as enlightenment, conscious mind.
Inventive, conniving, he swived the girls
In a shower of coins, as a black-billed swan,
And seeded Europe with arts and war.
Here in Crete there was also his tomb.
"Here lies Zeus, the magnificent dead."
Mainland Greeks who found this offensive
Levelled the site. As Paul remarked,
Cutting up rough in his letter to Titus,
"Cretans are liars". We all still live
In the lifetime of Zeus, the breaker of women,
Inventor of orchards...
... but dream of Dicte
The hoyden Goddess, all elbows and hips,
Unbroken, smelling of bitter herbs.