Donna Baier Stein
My poetry chapbook Sometimes You Sense the Difference was published by Finishing Line Press and my story collection Sympathetic People by Serving House Books. My novel The Silver Baron's Wife is forthcoming September 2016. I am completing a book-length poetry manuscript called Letting Rain Have Its Say. I founded and publishwww.tiferetjournal.com. More info can be found at www.donnabaierstein.com.
An image persists of tawny Alexandra
on her father’s fishing boat at fourteen:
her cinnamon face brushed with dawn,
her eyes berrybrown and credulous.
Her legs scramble among good omens on the deck.
Under poppy-tiled roofs, windows weep herbs
while snow-capped Mt. Athos towers above the Aegean,
harsh monasteries clinging to its cliffs.
Banned to females, this rock can be reached
only by men, on ropes and knotted ladders,
so these things Alexandra may never see:
St. Nicholas of the Oyster,
a cloth dropped by Mary at Calgary,
fragments of the True Cross.
In caves and spartan huts
monks live with their prayers:
kissing icons, snuffing candles.
Bones of their brothers pile high
in the charnel house,
near a piece of Christ’s crown.
Still, the reach of men runs only so far:
Alexandra may have other possibilities.
But now, as sunlight flecks the waves,
she watches her father’s water-whitened fingers
move deftly over stubborn nets,
untangling the hours of the day.
Published in an earlier version as “Fishing” in Spoon River Poetry Review
©2016 Donna Baier Stein