Balcony: Ilissia. Sleepy sparkle: morning sun. Then in the late afternoon voices fading before sleep. Barely brushing the mountaintop, a rainbow’s finger reaches down onto a single limestone column. The river Ilissos flows underground. Balcony on Aegina: the past concealed between hotels. Tough, also precarious, tribe of silent orange cats inches from the pale green sea slinking or strolling through the streets. Lavender table, lavender chairs set out on the pebbly beach. Octopus hanging on a line. Unexpected orange moon. In the back yard of the hotel is that a gypsy caravan? Lights on the black harbor water. Bedroom in Ilissia: French or German, English, Greek tomes about prehistory in our host’s grown daughter’s room. I will die, Achilles said, Morning or evening or afternoon. Limestone cave and tallow lamp, history of the human hand paging the album of the past. Our host is a postmodernist; his wife studies prehistory. Thunder over Aegina: balcony, outlook from a dream. Voices fading before sleep. Swallows diving from a roof. Between the Hotel Sandy Beach what is lost and what remains, and the Hotel Liberty, so tough and so precarious, blue and white awnings striped with rain. Variations on a theme: the wedding and the festival, balcony in Jerusalem, shopping before Shevuot in the German Colony. What is lost and what remains here in the Hotel Rachel. The river Ilissos flows underground.
Rachel Hadas’s most recent books are Poems for Camilla and verse translations of Euripides’ two Iphigenia plays, both out in 2018. She is the author of more than a score of books of poetry, essays, and translations, in all of which Greece–where she lived for a time in the Seventies and has recently revisited–is a steady theme, both its landscape and its literature. Among her honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, an American Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Poetry, and the O.B. Hardison Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library. She is Board of Governors Professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, where she has taught for many years.