Mr Stratis Thalassinos Describes a Man   IV Young Man

For a whole year I sailed with captain Odysseus

I was fine

in good weather I cuddled in the prow next to the mermaid

I sang to her red lips as I looked at the flying fish,

in rough waters I hid in a corner of the hold

with the dog of the ship keeping me warm.

A year later one morning I saw minarets

the ship mate told me:

‘It is Saint Sophia tonight I’ll take you to the women.

’Thus I learned of those women who wear

only stockings the ones we select, in fact.

It was a strange place

an orchard with two walnut trees, a grapevine, a water well

all around a high wall with broken glass on its top

a ditch singing ‘in the stream of my life’.

Then I saw for the first time a heart

pierced by the familiar arrow

drawn on the wall with charcoal.

I saw the leaves of the grapevine yellow

fallen on the ground

stuck on the flagstones onto the humble mud

and I took a step back to go to the ship.

Then the ship mate grabbed me by the collar and threw me in the well;

the warm water and so much life around

my skin…Then the girl playing with her right

breast carelessly said to me:

‘I’m from Rhodes, when I was thirteen

they got me engaged for one hundred drachmas.’

and the ditch sang ‘in the stream of my life’.

I recalled the broken water pitcher in the cool afternoon and I thought;

‘She will die as well, how is she going to die?

’I only said to her

‘Be careful, you will ruin it, it’s your livelihood’.

That night on the ship I didn’t dare get close

to the mermaid I was ashamed to face her.