Two Poems

Table, 2
After Milosz

An empty table, an empty tavern,
that image haunts her departure.

Everything else is cheap silverware, finger-marked
wine stems. Like an overburdened ghost, she moves

among broken plates in the direction of the port.
She doubts that stacked tablecloths will suffice.

Some dances are already piles of ash on cobblestone.
And after she leaves, distance is resurrected

in the body of a god, broken on this altar,
because even beauty cannot hide the loss

of song, or this rough table’s heavy wood.


That June the marble quarry slept.
      The pine trees made no sound 
except their sighs, their nymph breath 
diluted by a reef. Archilochus burned 
     fragments of words in the evening bonfire, 
and the goat sacrificed himself.

Animals do not mind such burdens.
     It was months after that the monks
learned what the goddess already knew:
the island is raw, garlanded with wild woods.
     Without marble, without a slab to rest on,
 we couldn't ram belly to belly, thigh to thigh.

We hoped the marble would open again,
     create a fissure for two bodies. And so,
we brought up the nets, tossed the bad fish

to the gulls, tried to summon a god.
     It was hard to get his attention. We dragged
the boats to the quarry. The ancient poets

had explained: we were lost. The goats made room
     for us to sleep. The sea stayed 
quiet, embraced its marble.

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