by David Havird
Weather on Naxos
The god, his humors petrified as veins
in roughhewn marble, was going down
feet first from the quarry, down to the port
where there is now a whitewashed village—from there
to the other side of the sea,
which moves in front of the tables,
the wobbly blue and white taverna,
only enough to glisten. I climbed
until I had the whole of him at my feet.
I had as well as a wedge of spinach pie
a plastic half-liter of Naxian red.
It came to me to stream a swallow down
on that colossal archaic rockhead,
effaced though he had been by wind and rain—
as also sprang to mind this god
as a fidgety infant snug in the crook of an arm,
his older brother jangling grapes
to disenthrall the spirited boy
from who knows what is making him fuss, while I’d
inspirit a lull, would rouse the weather
inveined in coolheaded marble. Up
the mountainside, the slippery flight
of marble slabs, into the quarry
schoolchildren surged, to scramble up
the unfinished god, to scurry over him,
between the stubs of reaching arms to plop,
from bearded chin to feet (a pedestal
this column never stood on, much less danced
as Dionysus) to heel-walk slide—
a revel of wind and rain in the vineyards.
With Byron at Bandelier
Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
I walked with Byron the trails at Bandelier.
Out of a petroglyph
he spiraled, Odysseus
up from the whirlpool—Lord Byron
whose steps I’d followed in in Greece
in the same trail-runners.
Leave only tracks. Where native feet
had worn down narrow trails in the tuff,
which you can keep to
only with always the same one foot
in front of the other, at Bandelier
I tracked up trails
with Byron’s footprints.
Take only pictures. I focused in
on one of the cliffside spirals. Whirlpool, no—
a rising sun
through whose all-seeing noon
amid charred pinyon pines
and ashen junipers, I viewed
The flying Mede, his shaftless broken bow;
The fiery Greek, his red pursuing spear
amid sheer bluffs, gaunt pines and junipers,
and slopes of olive trees like crones,
with silver knives, and Byron
under a whetstone sun
carving his name
as if among these petroglyphs
in marble. Noontide swirled
from the spiral. I steadied myself
against a pine and scanned
the rock face. A stick man hoisted
a stalk of maize. The Greek
with his red spear spun nightward.
The tree, though charred,
bristled as if on guard with green.
David Havird is the author of two collections of poems: Map Home (2013) and Penelope’s Design (2010), which won the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. He has other new poems in recent issues of The American Journal of Poetry, The Hopkins Review, Literary Imagination, Literary Matters, and Nostos. He teaches at Centenary College of Louisiana.