Article about Scott Cairns, celebrated poet and American professor of creative writing, who has made 6 pilgrimages to the holy peninsula of Mount Athos,
Of his first journey, he wrote a new memoir, Short Trip to the Edge: Where Earth Meets Heaven — A Pilgrimage.
Here one of his Athos poems written on the mountain itself: Katounakia were the hermits live.
Eremite by Scott Cairns
The cave itself is pleasantly austere,
with little clutter nothing save
a narrow slab, a threadbare woolen wrap,
and in the chipped-out recess here
three sooty icons lit by oil lamp.
Just beyond the dim cave’s aperture,
a blackened kettle rests among the coals,
whereby, each afternoon, a grip
of wild greens is boiled to a tender mess.
The eremite lies prostrate near
two books a gospel and the Syrian’s
collected prose whose pages turn
assisted by a breeze. Besides the thread
of wood smoke rising from the coals,
no other motion takes the eye. The old
man’s face is pressed into the earth,
his body stretched as if to reach ahead.
The pot boils dry. He feeds on what
we do not see, and may be satisfied.