BY ANGELO NIKOLOPOULOS
A row of seven cypress trees, religiously tall,
hedges the field below, itself in turn
water-hedged by mineral coastal blue.
Why seven? Why have you come here?
Not another “soul” for miles.
“You will find much beauty here”
Mrs. Ioanna says opening the balcony door.
Beneath the field, though I’ve yet to see it,
a cliff points over the craggy shore.
I came to test whether it’s true—
that the best things happen to you when you’re alone.
Maybe in the end you’ll find nothing useful here,
my mind says. You are old, you have done
terrible things. In the dusk, beyond language,
the field empties itself of color.
I am, if nothing else, unmonitored.
Waking in the afternoon, I pick a fig from the tree
and I do not eat it.
The first one? It existed before sex
but was attached to love:
in gym class, I’d focus my entire
being on the thin crest of skin,
between his underwear band
and shirt. And later—
the sudden pang of delight
(warm as light leak from a camera)
when he parted the branches
behind his house for me
to pass through
in the night. It was the pleasure
of being shown the way.
While in a spiritual holding pattern,
the United Sates Supreme Court declares gay marriage
a nationwide right. The sun sets—
pale blaze the color of exhausted dogwood—
as the news arrives, where I’ve spent the day singularly
on the balcony, in my blue shorts.
Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness,
excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions, Justice Kennedy
writes. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes
of the law. The judgment of the Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. Later, washing dishes,
a tight panic at the night’s openness.
I have made dinner, cleaned the kitchen, read an essay.
I have looked out across the waves.
In relationships—to others, to time and location—
“I will show you the beautiful waters”—
one tries to impose form on the vast formlessness
of solitary experience, the Mojave of the soul.
I stood on the balcony for as long as I could bear it.
The hardest part of being a poet—
the joke goes—was knowing what to do
with the other 23 and a half hours of the day.
Late evening, Percy (British, twice my age)
eats my asshole beneath a Yannis Tsarouchis portrait
of a soldier. It is an inter-generational triangulation.
I do not reciprocate.
In his crumbling villa I offer myself like a vista.
If it’s true, that there is someone for everyone
(which is to say, someone will find
you beautiful) it must also be true:
there will always be someone who finds you repulsive.
In the dull village, the bed is warm
but I do not lie down again.