Abroad by Susanna Kittredge


Susanna Kittredge

1999, I visited my friend Ellen in Bulgaria
where she was Peace Corps stationed,
and where ne means no and da

means yes, and head nods and shakes
are reversed. We took an overnight bus
to Athens, a walk to a travel agent,

and a boat to Paros. In Greek,
ne means yes and ohi means no.
They nod and shake like us.

I remember we saw a herd of sheep.
Or was it goats? It was a long
time ago. They trotted up the road

ahead of us as we hiked to the
monastery at the top of the hill—
which was closed that day. Oops!

But what a view! The blue of the
Aegean—Mediterranean? Whatever.
Like topaz, not dim sapphire Atlantic.

In the village, I returned
a woman’s greeting: kalimera!
Ellen’s eyes widened at my fluency.

It was a vacation. I’d never seen
an orange tree until Greece.
The woman from California

at our B & B was not impressed
with citrus. She was there for
the ouzo, the music, the clean beach.

I was there for the food, the color
of the water and white-washed walls,
the phrasebook full of new words.

I think the wine was cranberry red.
The waiters flirted so we’d return,
even though they knew they were far
too old for us.

About the Author

Susanna Kittredge’s poems have appeared in publications such as Barrow Street, The Columbia Review, and Salamander, as well as the anthology Shadowed: Unheard Voices (The Press at California State University, Fresno 2014). Her first book, The Future Has a Reputation, was published by CW Books in January 2020. She is a member of The Jamaica Pond Poets workshop group. By day, she teaches middle schoolers. You can learn more at https://susannakittredge.wixsite.com/mysite