Natalie Bakopoulos received her MFA in 2005 from the University of Michigan, where she now teaches. She is working on her first novel, set in Athens, Greece, during the military dictatorship of 1967–1974. Her short fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter and Tin House. Her Tin House story, “Fresco, Byzantine,” was the recent recipient of an O. Henry Prize for fiction and appears in the 2010 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories Anthology. In the summer she teaches writing on the island of Andros, as a part of the Aegean Arts Circle’s writing program. Natalie is a regular contributor to the online journal Fiction Writers Review.
If there weren’t distance
nostalgia wouldn’t be so formal.
Do you feel it, that August crush,
light, heat, heavy, thick sadness?
If February and March are bleak,
August is sheer heartbreak.
Maybe this is why we welcome
September so. August is both stagnant
and transient, a poignant Just-Say-
Even without a summer love. Even without
sunburn, or salt. No, I know what it is: saudades.
Do you know that word? Not nostalgia, not exactly,
something more intense. Longing for something
that exists . . . No, that exists no longer.
Something that was lost. Unretrievable.
From the Greek island of Patmos,
a friend writes, “I wish you could see
the light!” From another a friend
sends a photo taken from his phone:
the clear morning light casts his tall shadow
on the balcony in front of him. I can see
it in the picture, shaded over the Aegean.
Floating, like a body swimming.
Deceptive, buoyant lightness.
All poems on this post: © Natalie Bakopoulos
Published with the permission of Natalie Bakopoulos