by Sandra Beasley
After C. P. Cavafy’s “Ithaka”
As you set out for home—
back home to your apartment,
to your vengeful cat, back home
to a betrothed who never
was one for textile arts—
hope that the voyage is a long one.
Hope that Homer finds you
on your chosen journey,
on a bar stool in Ocala
one March Sunday at noon,
though it occurs to you—
after you are served
the bowl of boiled peanuts—
that your hunger, in this moment,
is not heroic. One by one
you shell their bodies, warm
and soft against your bottom teeth,
tipping sweet meat into your mouth.
Did they once have names?
Did they once have daughters?
How silly they look, in their little boat
with its checkered placemat sail.
You take a swig of a Bloody Mary,
spiked with ocean and jalapeno,
the one eye of your forehead pulsing.
You will get back in the car.
You will drive another 800 miles
with Aeolus’s bagged breath
stashed in your glove compartment.
And if you find her poor, home
won’t have fooled you, you
who have chosen a life
that consists of leaving your life.
Recall you once sat at a bar
wiping Cajun broth from your chin
with a twelfth cocktail napkin.
Blame Nobody, you sang,
Nobody did this to me.
Sporange, promises the dictionary. Or Blorenge, a mountain
in southeast of Wales. Except that I am off Route 301,
debating between two quarter-bushel bags of oranges
and deciding to buy them both. Florida, I am a little in love
with your strange: how you match pastel blue to forest green;
how your north is more Southern than your south;
how alligators and crocodiles share the same nine-mile pond,
brackish on one shore and fresh on the other.
Navel & Page; Page & Orlando; Orlando & Honeybell;
Honeybell & Murcott. I bring Temples and Ortaniques back
to a man who has hand-scrubbed his grandmother’s juicer.
Wear-Ever, promises the stamped metal.
He works for an hour, slicing and pressing. Sometimes
I must pitch my stance so that I don’t fall down the mountain,
into a valley, into the river of Usk. What two bodies
couldn’t make music, within such an embrace of aluminum?
Sandra Beasley’s latest collection of poetry is Count the Waves, published by W.W. Norton.