The full essay appears in our Spring 2015 digital issue.
I stroll barefoot on the beach at Spinalonga across the crushed luminescence of tiny abalones. Scanning the shore for pocketable souvenirs, I note a cube of rock, striped with bands of red and green. An inscription appears as I look closer: spidery white script engraved upon the bands of red, and thick, black gothic strokes across the green. The inscription runs along four sides of the chunk in an unbroken stream of notation.
I dip the rock into the sea to refresh its colors. A few letters leap out, unmistakable: alpha, theta, but the rest are illegible. On the lowest band is a row of white triangles resembling a highly stylized delta, all identical and evenly spaced, as if punched in the rock with the same carving tool. I am standing only a few feet from the crumbling Venetian bastions of the last leper’s colony in Europe, shut down over a half century ago. Could this have been scratched by an inmate on those dilapidated walls? Or has it been washed up from some far more ancient, sunken ruin of Byzantium?
LINDA LAPPIN is a prize-winning poet, novelist, and travel writer who divides her time between Italy and the USA. She has published three novels, The Etruscan, Katherine’s Wish, and Signatures in Stone, which won the 2014 Daphne Du Maurier Award for mystery writing. Her newest project, The Soul Place of Creative Writing Workbook will be published in May 2015 by Travelers’ Tales. One of the exercises in the book previously appeared in the Tiferet newsletter. www.lindalappin.net