This lotus smells of yesterday,
of Ithaca it knows no name.
A portside sigh: young lungs long
to breathe sweet lethargy
and rest undone efforts upon the sand.
For them, there is no other way.
North winds, blown them from their way —
a haven set eight suns past yesterday.
Their maternal ship berths abalone sand,
but for the land, they slave to name.
Aloe bud of Sicily? Scheria of draped ivy? Lethargy,
in silken draw, keeps their attentions from lasting long.
There, stillwater: strange stalks bend, long
the lotus flower lends her scent. She blossoms the way
of islander pride, fleshing their frames with lethargy
and laying their bodies swelled with dreams — as since yesterday,
the strangers have dared to sleep. Wroth Against calls the name
of his first mate to journey beyond bank and sand.
In droves of want, the crew unloads upon the sand,
unsuspecting of the perennial lure and why they long
to inhale an utterance of the flower’s name.
All panting and peeling, islanders stir and lead the way
to the lotus that smells of yesterday.
With warm blood, they pluck her fruit of lethargy.
Upon seaborne tongues melts saccharine lethargy,
thawing the salt from supple bone. They make lovers of the sand.
For such, they sink, unable to recall the storms of yesterday,
for the berry’s burn they languish and crave. As long
as each youth forgoes his way,
each youth forgets his name.
After the first mate, Wroth Against shrieks his name.
“Quick now, shed your lethargy,
for in this land you are less than a cast-a-way.
Conjure Ithaca’s olive vine, her poppy red, her pearly sand!
Get up, you reek of lotus flower. We have not long
before the winds return. We were so foretold yesterday!”
King Perish drags his men aboard, towing with them the rank of yesterday.
A portside sigh: young eyes long
westward over the sea, in memory of that apathetic sand.