04.20.2008

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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