Fishermen out before dawn. None returned.
I asked you why they left their nets behind,
but you were looking out, across to Assos,
and maybe didn’t hear me in the wind.
We both wore the same ironic mask:
one blue eye floating upon a white sea.
On that balcony, beside the iron table,
a geranium held on for dear life.
All day we watched waves capsize in the rain.
Our shoreline here: the other shoreline’s mirror.
Those aren’t nets, you said after a long time,
but mounds of sodden jackets and lost oars.
Stray cats sheltered in the light of the café.
We didn’t know the others huddled there.
The wind changed course and tried to explain
by shaking the geranium, but words sank
in the crossing, so we heard under water.
When I opened my hands, my palms burned,
as if they’d been lashed by splintered wood.
In sleep, you told me, we have been rowing.
Truth is, no one here knows where we’re going.
I begged you not to leave, but you’d already
slung a orange scarf over your wet head.
There aren’t enough boats to carry them,
I shouted, so there’s nothing left to do.
There is, you said. I’m going down to see.
Copyright © 2016 by Christopher Bakken. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 19, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.