Greek Summer (Nathanael O’Reilly)

Verity La Heightened Talk

For Tricia

On the road from Patras to Corinth,
I piss in petrol station toilets
paved with marble, eat lamb,
potatoes, tomatoes and feta,
break bread worthy of dreams.

In Delphi, an orthodox priest
stands in an empty street
smoking a cigarette, waiting
for a funeral to begin.
I chat with hotel workers
in English, their Aussie accents
thicker than mine, broadened
by years driving Sydney taxis.

Lounging on a night club sofa
with a view across the valley
of olives beneath Delphi
I sip ouzo, watch American
college kids grind on each other
in rhythm to Usher’s beats,
ponder my aging soul.

On Aegina I rent a Vesper,
gorge myself on olives,
tempt fate in board shorts.
At Sarpas Athena unleashes
her hair, bares brown breasts,
knocks back another Mythos,
submerges in the Saronic.

On Hydra I drink ouzo
with the ghosts of Johnston,
Clift and Cohen, walk
in Winton’s footsteps,
follow donkeys through alleys,
fantasize about checking out,
staying on to write novels.

Drinking before dawn
on a Plaka rooftop
with new friends
ten years younger,
I miss your presence,
wish you could share
the view, the wine, my bed.

Nathanael O’Reilly was born in Warrnambool and raised in Ballarat, Brisbane and Shepparton. He now resides in Texas. He is the author of Distance (2014) and two chapbooks, Suburban Exile: American Poems (2011) and Symptoms of Homesickness (2010), all published by Picaro Press. He is the recipient of an Emerging Writers Grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council. Over one hundred of his poems have appeared in journals and anthologies around the world, including AntipodesAustralian Love PoemsCorditeLiNQBlackmail PressTransnational LiteratureMascaraWindmillsPostcolonial TextProsopisiaRed River ReviewSnorkelTincture and Social Alternatives.