Eastern clouds loom low over
day’s first light. The olive drab
hills look like sets for a play.
The moon’s half the sky higher
than a solitary star. A crab
’s crows’ meat, its shells gulls’ prey.
On the highway, cars drive too fast,
headlights flashing. A cat cries.
The beach’s trashcans overflow.
Dawn’s calm waves won’t last.
Early surfers strain their eyes
to see how the currents will go.
A tan guy at Trouble Coffee–
fanged python tattoos on muscular
arms, his morning eyes
a blue more alluring than any sea
save Greece’s could be–stares far
off toward breakers, cloudless skies.
I don’t belong here. My mind
’s in the past. I’m a man stand-
ing dockside, waiting for a boat
to sail me there. Life’s behind
me. Desire’s an unnamed island,
unmapped, strange, remote,
Mediterranean, as good
as its views, the pleasures it promised.
I miss its untamed shores,
stark mountains, plane trees, wood-
lands, olive groves, grape must,
grottos, white cliffs, plashing oars
in shallows, swallows flying, swallows
nesting in my bedroom
ceiling. I’m restless as a child
trying not to sleep. Noon follows
noon. I watch boys in first bloom
leaping bulls, naked, wild.
Their hair’s golden as gilded marble
statues. Apollo’s light casts
no shadows. By clear streams,
a lover by my side, I’m able–
No. Passion’s gone. The past’s
not mine to know. No more dreams
of sky, sun, ocean as if youth
were endless, of the thrill
a boy felt, reborn, unthreat-
ened by the sea whose swells were proof
of God, the waves, the chill
of my body as it sweat
in the wind, the glare, the sand
warming my soles. The guy
from Trouble Coffee tugs on
his wet suit. I look at my hand,
wrinkled, spotted, old age dry.
His eyes are blue, undying: Aegean.
Peter Weltner has published five books of fiction, including The Risk of His Music and How the Body Prays (Graywolf), five poetry chapbooks, most recently Water’s Eye (Marrowstone), and five full length collections of poems, two in 2015, Stone Altars (BrickHouse) and, in collaboration with the artist Galen Garwood, Late Summer Storm in Early Winter (Marrowstone). He and his husband live in San Francisco by the Pacific.