Gathering Snails in the Mani

Across this landscape’s epic span
move women summoned by the rain,
transient as water-drops on rock –
lured by gleaming trails of gastropods
that forage for new shoots,
threading pebbles’ camouflaging labyrinths,
where moisture performs random acts of tenderness.

The women gathering the snails
are dwarfed by mountains, dark, immense,
cowled in violet shadow from the cloud
about their crests.

The women come from villages of narrow
towers hewn from stone, the trees that were
like wells to them charred skeletons
a fire has left, in place of quinces’ green
and gold, the saving grace of olive groves.

Lit by the sea’s refulgent light
they move across the limestone shelf,
vigilant and vulnerable
meeting in a common quest.

The Mani is a region of dramatic history and terrain
in the southeastern Peloponnese, Greece.

Jena Woodhouse


Queensland-based Jena Woodhouse is the author/compiler/translator of eight books in various genres, including three poetry collections, the most recent being Green Dance: Tamborine Mountain Poems (Calanthe Press 2018). She has worked as a journalist in Athens (Greece) and has in recent years been awarded writer’s residencies in Scotland, France, Ireland and Greece.

© 2019