Crossing and Recrossing the River
One day we intersected
on a greasy patch of sidewalk
before Bartley’s Burger Cottage.
You asked how my verse lines end,
and I said with the cheery ding
of the typewriter carriage return.
Thus came the prose poem issue
of your journal, Arion’s Dolphin,
which almost made us famous.
Later, on Greek Easter,
in your rental near Fresh Pond,
the suffering of lamb on spit
said more about Jesus and
his ultimate descent into art
than your Orthodox bible did.
Your vacation film of you
and Maggie nude on the beach
thrilled your Harvard colleagues,
but I had to step outside and blush
in the secretive urban dark.
The dinner at which Simic plucked
the best wine from the wine list
at institutional expense remains
Harvard Review’s high-water mark.
I haven’t found a better wine—
even in the taverns of Athens,
where you spoke the same Greek
you polished with post-Classical
aplomb in your earliest poems.
When you read for my students,
my fellow professor called you
“a hunk,” and noted that your wife
must keep you firmly leashed.
After you returned to Greece
to rake your ancestral bones,
the air thinned between us but
I still see your elegant mustache
twitching as the politics
of Fascist generals you defied
faded in showers of Euros.
We won’t meet again on earth,
but let’s remember those dinners
at the Parthenon Restaurant,
when the cheap retsina drowned us
in laughter the color of stone.