Issue > Poetry
Don Schofield

Don Schofield

Don Schofield's poems, essays and translations have appeared in numerous American journals. His books include Approximately Paradise (University Press of Florida, 2002), Kindled Terraces: American Poets in Greece (Truman State University Press, 2004) and The Known: Selected Poems of Nikos Fokas, 1981-2000 (Ypsilon Press, 2010). He currently lives in Thessaloniki, Greece.


Diafani, Karpathos
The festival is here. The boats. The cold.
The village gathered at the cliffs to cheer
their men in bathing suits, each ready to dive
to bring the cross back from the winter sea.

And when the priest in golden robes
hoists the cross long as his arms, whirls
and flings it out into the morning air, you would leap
just like the locals, fight the waves that pull you
under just to bring a symbol back—

you the stranger, the interloper, here
to witness what you cannot be, will never
become, the man they celebrate, the hero
lifting the village beyond the here and now.


Pummelled by the churning darkness,
flinging your arms in all directions, blindly groping—

The cross finds you, you'd like to think. Reach out
and there it is. What pulls you to the surface
by its wholly wooden nature. And then

their arms will take you up into a rocking
boat, the cramps relaxing, someone pouring brandy,
someone wrapping a robe around you.

No smell of diesel, drizzle or pounding waves.
Just clapping and cheers as now you give the cross
back to the priest, who wraps you in his arms.


When it's done the going back is hard.
A distance forms in eyes you know, even
your wife will gaze at you before she turns
to sleep in peacefulness you'll never reach.

You'll wear the cold, the sea, that salt-scored cross,
drag them day to day, when all you want
is someone here to hold you up against
the fervent blast of doubt and admiration,

on solid ground again but you won't know.


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