Just a Man

Prairie Fire - - MOLLIE COLES TONN -

And here’s the is­land of Palaia Ka­meni,

in the caldera of San­torini, where noth­ing is,

where no one lives, ex­cept a man.

Oh and seep­ing iron, vol­canic sand. One man:

his nets and pots. Noth­ing to see

ex­cept the tarp, his painted buck­ets, axe,

Plato bark­ing at the smoke. No one but the crabs

that nib­ble his feet, his in­grown hairs, his rock rubbed

knees, the but­tery fish he’ll give up for lent,

a glass of un­salted wa­ter sipped, the af­ter­noon sweat

be­tween his pecs, the pee break at the omen rock, rust stains

on his winded shirts. Just the ash ocean he draws

for days on stone, fin­gers smithed with soot. Just the moon

slide and the fish­bone dream of fling­ing the flat sky

to­ward moun­tain­ous space. Noth­ing. The heavy hit

of Aegean dark, the broil of animated ions,

mut­ter of gulls. This is the void—

one God to talk to, all that si­lence, the soli­tary bell. The can­dle

he lights against even­ing, the open wound of time,

sea­glass jarred like an icon, kalei­do­scop­ing on his porch.

The sun’s last peach stripes, crust of waking

when it’s time to sleep, the musty cov­er­let,

pale in­scrip­tion of Mary’s feet, the tantrum of a jammed

can opener, the holler of his chick­ens at dusk, their gul­let

pulled for boil­ing, the fat ris­ing in the froth. The first sip

of wine like another’s tongue, that basalt-scented prayer

crunched be­tween teeth, the cat’s claw sleep­ing

on his throat, the song from be­hind the bushes. More can­dles,

ca­ressed crosses, the game of sticks, clack

and con­cen­tra­tion, sore wrists, sud­den end—

hunger; feta, meat, wiped face, shine

of a mir­ror on the back of his hand.

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