A seagull arrives unbattered
on salted air, adjusts its tail, squawks
alone. Red beak open,
it waits for crumbs, flakes of fish;
grey-sky wings spread
like the pending storm,
a knobbed leg stretched, prepared
for escape. Silver birds gather,
settle like sand whirled in the wind.
They bicker, squabble.
Some stamp their feet
like hard drops of rain; pull out earthworms
tricked to the surface.
They soar out to sea,
one after the other, hover motionless,
disappear with the wind;
one moment birds, then sky,
tiny specks, like stars.
Seaweed lies dry on the mangrove floor;
the tide is out. We waited a long time
for the water to recede.
Snowflakes flurry on the Istanbul tarmac
and a million different ways of being
fall on my face and body.
We are living a dream, but there is a cost –
like the trees full of bitter oranges
that line the streets of Athens;
they colour winter, but cannot be eaten.
Slowly, I find my way back to Lisa.
At home there was no laughter; we were
birds making nests out of string.
When my father came out of his coma,
I danced like he was resurrected.
I wanted to clap, to yell, to step
and step, but I didn’t know how to dance
the way the Greeks do.
Now he is dead, it’s another airport
and we’re even further away;
now that we finally understand each other,
I have a belly, and Lisa is sick every day.
On the way out of our hotel we hold hands,
pass a cow tied beside a dirty creek,
a Balinese woman barefoot on the road.
Two pigeons sit on top of a temple roof,
waiting to fly some place.
Sometimes I wonder if we have done
the right thing, and then I walk
around the corner at Monastiraki,
hear the bouzouki drift from a taverna,
see the Greeks dance.
Long grass between lines of spring onions,
the broken edge of wood where a root has crept,
like a snake that cannot find another way;
it has disappeared, lost in the scurry of a lizard,
in the soft grey of a miner bird’s wing.
The path between parsley gone to seed and
sprawling thyme is covered with morning dew,
large ants following each other in a row,
and a few yellow leaves fallen off shrubs.
The bonsai tree died long ago. It was a gift,
but I didn’t know how to take care of it;
I didn’t know how to take care of myself. A masked lapwing
stands on one leg, protects a nest on the open ground,
a magpie looks for seeds, and earthworms
raise their bodies into the air for more water.
Wild sunflowers grow amid the old tomato vines,
and daisies find root in grass. There is little left
of the old ideas, of the plan for this garden.
It is lost, like all the other things
that had to be left behind. I didn’t know
how to take care of it, how to tend to it;
I didn’t even know how to take care of myself.
It has taken a long time
to learn to make bread.
I knead the dough
again and again
throw white flour on the bench
knead the dough,
Only when the dough does not stick,
is full of small pockets of air,
is it ready to sit.
Like a fisherman that waits
for the wind to ease,
clouds to clear,
I wait for bread to rise.
Ion Corcos has been published in Grey Sparrow Journal, Clear Poetry, Communion, The High Window and other journals. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. Ion’s website is http://www.ioncorcos.wordpress.com