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Two Poems

The Room on Naxos

In that room on Naxos,
the hotel room in the
little one-street har-
bor town we walked a
mile or two from to
the perfect mile-long
beach with only a few
Germans Gerhard and
Ulrike and the wiz-
ened woman archeolo-
gist with her much
younger lover and
that sweet taverna
just for us the daz-
zling beach where we
swam nude and where
I tried to lift you
out of the water like
a goddess doing beau-
tifully until the wa-
ter wasn't under you
—in that lamplit bed-
room (or was it on the
ferry was it later?)
when I tried to tell
you it had been won-
derful but it was
over you didn't hear
me didn't understand
what I was saying and
I kept on going so as
not to hurt you and
then fell in love a-
gain: Where would we
be now if you had
heard me if our is-
land time had been a
sun-dazed moment not
the prelude to a long
long story rife with
declarations and ad-
missions one or the
other of us didn't


This world so
golden so un-
reachable this
August morning
with its hills
its tawny stub-
ble fields its
trees its sin-
gle scarlet
branches arch-
ing overhead
as desperate
music pours
from the
speakers is
reason enough
to live almost
although it's
hard acknowl-
edging that this
is what it
gives us: sim-
ple being
depthless mir-
rored imma-
nence daylong
and here for
the taking.

I want the
world to an-
swer back the
way the song
joy and shared
grief shared
spilling into
the unrepen-
tant void. And
today it al-
most does: sun-
struck seren-
ity and self-
content im-
mense impervi-
ous beauty
distant pres-
ent godly evi-
dence—as in
the near far
hills the
first most
gaudy leaves
the rough down
gold or russet
no hint of
gray yet on
your untouch-
able cheek.

Jonathan Galassi

Alfred A. Knopf

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