Day four on Poros
I walk toward the sea,
early while the city sleeps.
My internal clock is a buzz saw
that awakes me at daybreak as it was set to do
in my youth. Every day of the week,
it would wake me, for I was the one
to bring the cows to the milk shed.
I was the one to milk the cows
before the school bus ran
in the morning, and after school,
for my father drove the bus.
I never raised a fuss,
not about milking or school,
not about plowing the mule, Dan–
not about being too bone weary to carouse,
to be with girls except in my head,
where my dreams would hit a homerun
every time. One day in Old Seventy Creek,
my sister’s friend lost her halter top,
two pink nipples dropped my jaw
& she did not deny my curious peeps
nor know that I memorized lines of poetry.
From the wall I watch small fry dine
on sewage, piped straight from the hotel
into the Mediterranean Sea with no regard
by management for polluting water as vast
as that sea.
A small sailboat docks near me.
A fisherman waves for me as fast
as he can, and points his scarred
hand into the boat. I get in. We sail.
He speaks no English; I no Greek. His wine
is warn, sweet & white.
The sky is blue to its height.
Day Five on Poros
I walk down to the docks again
in the morning, hoping to go to sea
again with the old fisherman.
It is not to be, for the fisherman
has a young man with him who approaches me,
“Thanks for helping him,” he says, his English plain
& proper. “You should return
to your home; sell everything you own,
& come back to Poros & our sea.
Grandfather says you are surely
good luck. He always sails alone;
you gave his life a good turn.
The squid will wait.
Grandfather will yearn
to have his good luck charm back.
If you choose to come back
with the money you earn
from all your things, Fate
will smile on you
like a woman in love.
Here, you can live like royalty.”
On the hydrofoil in the afternoon, royalty,
Poros, the old man, blue sky above—
Athens ahead—reality breaks through:
before another morning dawns on Poros,
I will be at my job in Kentucky
& the young lady who granted my wish
& the old squid fisherman
will be separate,
but unequal memories.