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Published: Feb 13, 2005
Modified: Feb 13, 2005 3:00 AM
Unapproachable Edens

PAUL JONES, who did the first part of his growing up in Charlotte, is amazed that at his advanced age he can still qualify as a distinguished member of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists. A graduate of N.C. State and of Warren Wilson College -- where he studied computer science and literature -- Jones is the director of (a large-scale information sharing project) and on the faculties of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Information and Library Science at UNC. Jones is author of the chapbook "What the Welsh and Chinese Have In Common." Jones is blessed to live with the lovely and talented Sally Greene, a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, and Tucker Jones, a future cell biologist and Lego master.

When the poet Robert Bly first saw the Greek island of Santorini (also called Thera), he said that it was depressing and dark. Almost no one else who has ever visited the volcanic island has reported that feeling. The beaches on the south of the island are glistening black sand. Not far from the beaches is the excavation of the Minoan city of Akrotiri. Disaster, romance, beauty and history are all gathered there. Bly is right that a trip to Santorini is more than a pleasure trip. Like Valentine's Day and like love, a visit there conjures up a variety of emotions.

I've always had a certain
Distrust of earthly beauty;
I would pull back a curtain
To show what was hid behind
As if that was my duty
To be the one not blinded
And to share that purity

Of vision, of purpose, but
When a cute couple came out
Of the surf onto the black
Sand beach at Santorini --
The waves breaking at their knees
Stalled while the guilty gulls shouted,
Winds whispered as they turned back

Like any silhouette on
A card tendering the cheap
Tenderness that turns creepy
(When the brain is set to "on")
And having been sold removes
The gold borders from "our love."
But they seemed to be above

That. To be, instead, 3-D
As if they could joke about
Their cliche while waves threaded
White foam between their dark knees,
As if wordless ecstasy
Was not just idiocy,
As if they might wade back out

Onto the exotic sand
To find a love so complex
And amazingly simple
That the old pull to touch hands
Becomes changed, charged like new sex,
Like falling onto the sand.
When we think, do we lose love?

Stop! The grit, cool night, and spray
All conspire to take away
Romance, to replace the tired
That seemed so new then withdrew
To something worn and well tried.
I pray they find a new way
To keep their Eden in view.

Who would not fall to desire,
Who has danced inside the fire?
Better a pillar of salt
That's seen paradise afar.
But angels with flaming swords
Cannot match the fear, the fault
Of growing trite, being bored.

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