Today's poem is by Neil Shepard


Late afternoon we watch the waters change—
aquamarine, cerulean, royal blue, blue-violet.
And now, violet, deep violet. And now black.

The patio lights say your eyes are blue, your lids
purple, your skin copper. The glow of Greek morning's
still upon your face. And what came later—

something far from the jeweled coastlines
and secret coves where lovers dive, make love,
preserve each others' bodies with sun-oils.

Somewhere far into the interior of the island
where groves of orange, lemon, lime, shiver
in heat, where fragrant myrrh and olive

mask a far older smell. All comes back to us
this evening in the sweep of mountain wind.
We feel a certain nakedness remembering

the backfire of our mopeds on the mountain
road, young fruit-pickers perched in the foliage,
their heads emerging like globed fruits as we passed.

Arriving in a white-washed village,
we blew black smoke in siesta-sun,
until the children pegged pebbles, pointing

and running and begging. Women's black-veiled heads hung
out their windows, and their bony fingers pointed.
Town-fathers plied us with ouzo, retsina,

then wrapped their legs around us in an old
Ionian dance, and their hunger drove us
farther out on the mountain road where blind

beggar-widows huddle in their black shawls.
As we sputtered and belched black fumes, they caught us
in the cross hairs of their eyeless stares, worse than

the eye of the all-knowing, two black holes for sockets,
and the leprous nose, and that last hole
of darkness where the mouth opens in need,

the language foreign but familiar to any traveler.
Tonight we still see them as the Corfu waters
go violet, go black. Hands rise from scaly limbs

and they beg with their missing fingers.

Copyright © 2012 Neil Shepard All rights reserved
from (T)ravel/Un(T)ravel
Mid-List Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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