Did you take me for a Greek word?
Most do, but I pre-date the Greeks.

I used to describe a limestone plateau
where dusty snakes and small owls lived

with a people from whose mouths emerged
my extensive family. I miss the sound

of my original kin as I muck in
with this new crowd, biting my tongue

when I hear two or even three words stuck
together to describe skies my first family

got in a syllable – skies that occur at nightfall
in Attica after days of languor in late August

(you know the ones). But as I mourn the fall
in standards, I tell myself to be grateful

I’m uttered without nostalgia and remain
the name of this place. I’d hate to join Siam,

Byzantium, Saigon, Rangoon, Bombay –
beautiful words in various stages of decay.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN


Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences