Night Ferry to Naxos (a poem by Monica Youn)

All your carefully cultivated notions of realism

come to and end here, where the sentimental pink
funnels into the Peloponnese

like a rum and grenadine cocktail
poured down a taut throat. Tourist,

this is how the peace drains into you.
Your fingers uncurl on the deck railings,

and over your head, a spiraling umbilical
of ship-smoke looks back to the brown air of Athens,

which only now, behind you, is beginning
to take shape: a smog-shielded dome.

The flattering breeze picks out your contours
in silverpoint–its insinuations

sweet as fresh-laid sheets, a bedtime story,
mother love. Already above you,

half-heard, a tattoo of wingbeats, bare feet
racing in circles on hard-packed dirt.

You will have to become a hero like the rest of us.


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