Coast of Ilia 

By LISA ROSENBERG

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

Image of a statue of a woman wearing a dress in white against a beige background, cover of Ama Codjoe's poetry collection.

September 2022 Poetry Feature: Ama Codjoe—from BLUEST NUDE

AMA CODJOE
When my mother was pregnant, she drove / every night to the Gulf of Mexico. / Leaving her keys and a towel on the shore, / she waded into the surf. Floating / naked, on her back, turquoise waves / hemming her ears, she allowed / the water to do the carrying.

The Longkau’s Name (Excerpt from DAKOTA)

WONG KOI TET
The body of water that runs by the neighborhood is in fact a river, but everyone used to call it longkau— a storm drain. The Hokkien word has a crispier edge than the Mandarin longgou. Calling it a river would require a proper name, a division into upstream and down. Nobody knew about that stuff, so we went with what was the easiest.

cover of June Gervais's jobs for girls with artistic flair

Review: June Gervais’s Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair

SUSAN SCARF MERRELL
Rarely is a book as delightful as June Gervais’s debut novel, Jobs for Girls with Artistic Flair, a story of people who do their best to be better and then fail and try again with courage and integrity. These characters cannot be dismissed or ignored, because they don’t give up.