for the Samaritans of Skala Sikaminias

                                       for the rescuers

A gray light shines through the normal world
a silver-scale dawnlight
like the sea-sound in the right
chord on an oud, like a sail unfurled

on a cedar mast, standing simply free
on a fishing boat, out of Skala
Sikaminias, on Lesbos.  Ah,
sighs the wind, for the drowned refugee –

Oh, keens the seaman, for the ghost
of his son (a scarecrow
helped to shore).  Hard row
now, for Samaritans – for the host

village, gasping by the sea, in the normal
world, in the feathered light
of the mourning dove, so quiet
here (in the soughing wind, in the tall

cedars, in the shy bird’s nest, in the forest
dusk, in the soft
dawnlight, in the gray gull’s loft,
in the normal world).  Plain salt is best.

On a concrete floor, someone traced a star
like an octagon, in a Sapphic
ode – under harsh traffic,
under raving codes, like a graven bar

on a looping ply.  In a rosy key
sailors skim toward home –
from a morning comb,
roosters crow for Lesbos (merrily).


*for more information on sources of this poem, see today's New York Times article

No comments: