Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Winter Sequence, Santorini

Winter Sequence, Santorini

The children, spirited as early snowfall, still poke the mongrel dogs
and bored donkeys, but the zeal of cruelty has faded.
Each town has wasted its breath on summer. Shops deserted.
Vibrantly painted homes climbing steadily up from port
drained of contrast, without raw sun to reflect.

The giant tongue covers cloud and sky, unrolls over the street.
The sand I hold could be murderous ash cooled over centuries,
Minoan doom, or a dead man, more recent.
Cunning life begs as stray kittens, laps the milk now crusted
from tourist season, begs for more-
more water, more shells emptied of ocean,
more crosses and bells to appease or confront Nea Kameni-
more of what abounds. Never enough.

I read the varied initials of winter:
the dizzying handwriting on wind, the fading recollection
of gulls and footfall, a retreat to songs of despair and toil-
shows the character of naked rock, the blood it lets into the sea.
All things settle in different places
like the sun cradled low in the vineyards,
swallowing in bottles the sweet wine unsold,
or the island’s tense voice spoken up through feet, leg, heart,
in a seasonally lightened mezzo soprano.

The children turn their eyes on me,
myself an empty town sleeping,
but I’ve a longer stick, my weariness and regret
measured in calendars that have not witnessed them.
We all- leery children, treasonous tourist, ghostly streets,
eternal morning drifting out to sea- circle each other
with soft hands and dangerous claws, viewing our open veins
as if from a train window at midnight.

-in the upcoming River Oak Review

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