April Lindner is the author of two books of poetry, Skin (Texas Tech University Press) and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (Able Muse Press). She also has published three Young Adult novels and a digital-exclusive novella. Love, Lucy, her most recent novel, is a contemporary reimagining of E. M. Forster’s A Room With a View. She teaches at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and has taught writing on study-abroad tours to Italy and Greece.
Eggs from a passing stranger:
three, an awkward handful.
Wet, speckled, grassy,
each a different shade of cream.
small still life we take turns bearing.
What can we do in this hungry sun
but leave them here
on a low stone wall, for ghosts
or maybe goats?
Amygdala says the boy
As he hands us each a soft green node,
one of the many he was smashing with a rock
as we happened past. And freska—
second word we recognize. He shows us how
to peel back the pillowy shell,
watches as we taste
nutmeat, wet and fresh,
then heaps our palms
with more than we can hold.
In this village cemetery,
its gate secured by twisted wire,
we trespass over graves:
bed-sized sandboxes of gravel
cut into white marble.
You share what you’ve been told:
when all that’s left is bone
women come to polish, collect
and cart away, to make
the necessary room.
Each headboard contains a shrine.
Behind glass, a gold-framed photo
(A solemn teen, or someone’s Yia Yia)
and offerings: icons and sweets,
a lamp, oil, a cigarette lighter
left like a pledge: We will come back
to tend and remember.
Meanwhile, bougainvillea spills skyward,
red as blood from the remains—
what earth gives back in recompense.
Originally appeared in Literary Bohemian
When the shops close at midday
and the torpid streets fall silent,
follow the dusty path downhill.
Everyone’s asleep but the skinny white cat
who crosses your path, a mouse’s tail
twitching from clenched jaws.
At the inlet’s mouth, sea urchins
gather like black asterisks.
Find a foothold where they aren’t.
Step in to the hem of your dress.
Gradations of blue hint at shifting depth.
Keep walking as far as the shallows can take you.
Notice holes in the sand beneath your feet.
Wonder what stirs out of sight.
Familiar, pale, and diffident
she hovers above the city’s morning business,
a movie star glimpsed running errands.
The tourist turns a corner, glances up
and freezes at the sight: her profile
cool against the burning sky.
Closer up, we see her scars.
So much flesh torn away,
everyone itching for a chunk.
Discomfited, we turn our backs,
downhill to tavernas and trinket shops.
But after dark and from a proper distance
she seems, bathed in spotlights, precisely
what we longed for, beaming from her pedestal
and, like the moon, more symbol now than stone.
The bus driver muscles the wheel,
guiding our brittle vessel
along a zigzag of sharp turns,
up a cantilevered stack of ash,
its summit white icing
lavished on so much devil’s food.
Somehow we neither graze the cliffside
nor tip over the grassy strip
that separates asphalt from air
The sea by now so far below
I don’t dare press my face to glass
to drink in the view:
sheerest of plummets,
bluest of blues.
Music of this tongue I mangle.
Impenetrable street signs,
letters that masquerade
as ones I know.
Caper flowers that unfurl
white blossom, fuchsia filament,
from a sidewalk crack.
The mule train straining
skyward clop by clop
up from the old port.
its burnt black rubble
Who am I when I’m no one
to anyone I pass? One blurred face
among the many, cameras heavy
around sunburnt necks, streetmaps
bleeding in our hands?
The self I used to be
rubbed off like chalk,
I’m blank, a stone
encased in glass, spotlit
by merciless sun. Features—
if they were ever there—
I bolt upright into the dark
in a bedroom I don’t recognize,
a city I can’t name.
Who am I and where?
As if the jet-borne body
has outrun the soul.
I feel along the walls.
Where was I yesterday?
The Roman catacombs—
clay tunnels where families
buried their dead, graves
worn featureless by time.
And before that? Someplace sunbleached.
Akrotiri. More stone upon stone,
a city shaken, blanketed by ash.
Experts dug up a gold ibex,
flakes of paint, poured plaster
into negative space
To recreate what had decayed.
I feel the bones of this strange bed
and the past trickles back
and cools into shape:
This room I once called mine,
sheets that wrapped the self I left behind.
Originally appeared in Italian Americana
Poetry in this post: © April Lindner
Published with the permission of April Lindner