Helen Heath

Nostos — Ithaka (extracts)

The landing
The truth about stones is some fit in your palm,
some you lay your palms upon.
If you press a stone with your finger,
your finger is also pressed by the stone.
If you pull a stone on a rope
the stone pulls you back.
If you carry a stone in your pocket
you can smooth it with your thumb.
I collect pebbles from Ithaka
and intend to bring them home.
Kalliope speaks
You want room? I have
very goot room, goot douch.
Goot tourist, Greeks no goot.
You come.
You cook with olive oil?
Goot gal, goot gal.
Kleiste tin porta.
Where are you going?
You no bang door,
you break the plaster.
Up the hill
The truth about raindrops is
they are not shaped like tears.
As raindrops fall they become balls,
burger buns, parachutes, then donuts.
Rain is only sad in wet places,
others greet it with euphoria.
Water is containment and travel,
it worries at earth and stone.
Things do smell better after rain, like
wild oregano up the hill from Vathy.
Making dinner
Spyros asks me You believe
God? I’m not sure how

he’ll react, so I look at my hands.
Atheist, I say.

Ah, Atheos! Kommounistiko!
kalo koritsee — goot gal.

He takes both my hands.
pole kalo, my friend!

Kalliope skulks behind us
in the kitchen. She’s boiling up eggs

and spinach, buttered
white bread for dinner.

Mutters, o yeros anoeetos
(old fool).
Kalliope gives me the Evil Eye
Here, you take,
you keep away Mati —
Evil Eye. She spits
touh, touh, touh
and signs the cross.
The blue glass eye stares
up at me from my palm.
Efharisto, I say, thank you.
She waits, then, realising
I’m lost, pins it to me
like a name badge on
a child at camp.

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