Coast of Ilia 


Image of a beach with chairs and umbrellas made out of twine.

Photo by Lisa Rosenberg

Gulf of Kyparissia, Ilia, Greece

1. This is the story 

of cigarette butts and discarded straws.
Of beach, and sea, and all that mythology 
rolled into one bright ball where my child plays 

among lounge chairs, voices, thatch umbrellas. 
Wave after wave of clustered consonants
and open vowels swell and crest over us— 

chords of her father’s mother-tongue, and hers. 
So many syllables to name this smooth 
crescent of coast. So many words for blue.

Image of a little child at the beach playing with the hose of an umbrella.

Photo by Lisa Rosenberg

2. Shallow water, 

where I can touch the shadow of my hand
on the sand of the sea floor, and tilt my face
to find the day moon half-cupped in shade, in sky 

fluid as sea. Sea of sunken epics.
Sea of fraught songs. Sea whose depths we question, 
whose surface disassembles reflection. 

Sea village, mountain village, one thin road 
between them threading olive groves and up 
to stone-clotted pastures the goat herds roam. 

Image of a row of chairs on a balcony with tree tops in the background.

Photo by Zoé Marinos

3. Sit here, 

and praise the laden, majestic fig tree. 
Note balcony vistas, wash bucket, mop. 
A rotting slice of watermelon rind 

dangles and spins in its plastic hammock. 
The afternoon unwinds. Shall we gather 
wind-scattered trash at dusk to the music 

of cicadas? Can we accept the gifts
of puzzlement? Months later, in the grips 
of busy-ness, ask where the summer went.

Image of the sun setting over the ocean with umbrellas made of twine, chairs, and people.

Photo by Zoé Marinos

Poet and recovering engineer Lisa Rosenberg is the author of A Different Physics (Red Mountain Press). The recipient of a Djerassi Residency and Wallace Stegner Fellowship, she served as Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, California, and is a frequent speaker on the confluence of arts and sciences. Her poems and essays appear in venues such as POETRY, The Threepenny Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, Ruminate, and California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology.

Coast of Ilia 

Related Posts

an image of a woman among old artifacts. the woman's back is to the photographer and she is facing the open door


There are no streetlights between the old slaughterhouse and the edge of town. The road that links them feels longer than its few hundred barren meters, proceeding above a rocky slope that ends in channel water—the former landing place of blood and entrails, arriving by chute while dogfish gathered.

child in carseat with book through a car window

Still Life 3: The Suburbs

Interior of a silver Volvo wagon, back door pockets stuffed with Candy Ring wrappers, pencils, and rocks; I am looking in the rear-view mirror or over my right shoulder into the backseat.

Two Poems by Elaine Reardon

When I woke in the morning / and begged for stories, Gram said / don’t talk to much, flies / will get into your mouth. / I still wanted to a story. / She’d say later, after our work // She tied an apron around me, / pulled the stool to the table, / gave me parsley, cracked wheat, / ground lamb, and my own basin / of water to wet my hands