Andrea Potos


Give me the nearness of water–
boats cleaving wind-brushed
gem-green, molten grey, and sails
birthing full colors to air–
the way a child might wish
for the sight of her mother
through an open door,
arc of her mother’s hands
turning the pages of her book,
stirring the broth on the stove;
the ruffling of her skirts
as she moves, her hair
accepting whatever light
passes through the window.



My daughter tells me she doesn’t like
the light of late afternoon, those hours
when the sun
is drawing down and the air
takes on a molten hue
that makes her think of autumn.
I hate fall, she says, the beauty
of the leaves
doesn’t make up for their dying.
I don’t know how to refute her,
nor can I manage to agree, looking still
to hold those moments
of ochre-gold, before the falling
my daughter already can’t help but see.



Before I laid
down this rope–

spent hiss on the ground–
I admit

I joined
the continual

being pulled–false

friction of desire

that chafed
and sliced

the palms
where my lifeline lay–



Oia, Thira

once when the Greek sun
had its say
over the terraces and cliffs,
the lapis water of the caldera
waving and blinking Yes.
Even the feral tabby settled
on the veranda
where we stared,
where we breathed
stricken by beauty,
a word we would not understand.



When people say: Welcome back
to the real world
I want to tell them how I awakened
to Romans passing through the piazza
outside our windows, how one day a woman
in a red coat eating a pastry stopped to clean
her sticky fingers in the fountain that sang
even through the nights,
that men strolled with their newspapers
and cigarettes, and children chased pigeons
on the uneven cobblestones everywhere
that made me aware how it is
I walk on the face of this earth,
on my way to the forno where a tall,
silver-haired man sliced long slabs of
pizza bianca just emerged from the ovens,
how he smiled Prego! when handing me
the gold bread glistening with oil and a sprinkling
of peccorino romano, and I left to devour it
while walking in the Campo di Fiori where
vendors sold me plums and berries,
miniature bottles of limoncello and bags
of rigatoni, spaghetti, and candied almonds
that dissolved on the tongue; along with pendants
of murano glass and jackets stitched with ³Italia²
in red and gold letters–Italia–that country where I
slept and breathed and dwelled for
nine spacious days, there in the Mediterranean–
on the map nearest to Albania, Croatia,
Greece, beside the life-sustaining seas.


Andrea Potos is the author of four poetry collections; her newest is We Lit the Lamps Ourselves, just published from Salmon Poetry in Ireland. Potos work also appears in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry East, Wisconsin Review, Women’s Review of Books, Southern Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Beloved on the Earth (Holy Cow! Press), Claiming the Spirit Within (Beacon Press), and A Fierce Brightness (Calyx Books). She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her family.