Suite for Santorini I. Sunlit lacquer: a swimming woman's skin. Ochre trumpet blossoms curl over an icon-painter's door. Bright towns darken, eclipsed by a cruise ship's shadow where the tourists form squawking gaggles in the arbor’s shade. And there, a beggar crouches like a coyote, or like the fluttering shadow of our sin. Rose hips swell in the volcanic sand, huge lemons in the hilly churchyard threaten to split and sign the gravel with their juices. The cool nights fall like fruit, deep into the palm of the persistent breeze. Now everything is ready, ripe for our abuses in the virgin groves of Santorini. II. Bell notes glance the cobble, mud roads raise their hackles, blow away as dust, and a ferry’s klaxon torpedoes blue-domed Fira where a battlement of pigeons puffs like flak. The steeple is Hector’s spear throwing its shadow over an acre of Floridians, battalions breaking against docks, and an oyster’s scalloped shield is tireless until I twist it open with a knife. Now the licorice taste of dog-days lingers between freshening, sea-tart gulps of brine: the island is polishing its blade again for summer, money, the familiar raid that ravishes and sustains her. III. I know, these lines will dry like seaweed on a beach below the island’s kestrel-haunted rim, or be delayed forever trying to reach, through Oia’s tangle, the battlements of a crumbling Byzantine ruin. Let that April cure its hangover between bookshelves, looking for an edition of Byron with a marbled cover or napping in my memory’s faded clothes. She asked me then, with naive love, which islands I’d make poems when we got home. Only this one, if ink can map its tumbling coves where mules dawdle eating clover and doves burst from the asphodels.
Alex Miller is the author of A Bow From My Shadow, a collection of poems written in dialogue with work by Luke Irwin. His work has appeared in magazines like The Cortland Review, The Cider Press Review, The Millions, and The Adirondack Review. He is a Lecturer in literature at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, and an English teacher.