Maiden’s Tower



We pass a lighthouse and you tell me the legend—
a seer, an emperor, his daughter, the snakebite;
the tower he built to keep her at the edge of the sea—
when an old woman passes us on the ferry,
sniffs us twice, You are in love, I smelled it!
and last night on the island, over fresh fish
and a pitcher of ice-cloudy raki, I asked how
many words for love in your language:
This question cannot be answered—and we
laughed and walked the sidewalk along the sea
until I found a ladder and climbed down
to wade between continents in the icy dark—
You have to have the end in mind
when you read the poem, Lloyd once said,
and ours is in days; I knew it before I came,
but I believe in trying all probabilities
of a possible history, especially
those that aren’t likely—it wasn’t love
the woman smelled, that couldn’t keep
the maiden from the snake sliding
into a basket of fruit on her birthday,
but learning again to read what’s been
written: this moment, its particular
probability spray-painted on a wall between
the bougainvilleas and the dumpster:
LIFE IS ONE HOPE, and you translate hop—
of all the answerless questions, questionless
answers: answers that can only be questioned.


Tara Skurtu, author of The Amoeba Game and the upcoming collection Faith Farm, is a two-time Fulbright grantee and recipient of a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship and two Academy of American Poets Prizes. She is the founder of International Poetry Circle and a steering committee member of Writers for Democratic Action.

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Maiden’s Tower

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