your knees like heavy cobbles 
 in a town square in Provence 

 your place an infinite 
 vanishing point 

 from which cells of existence 
 flow like coins 

 you created this caldera now full of windmills 
 and irrigation we bicycle its dirt roads 

 mountain crests ringing it like a signature 
 of your name--a huge zero 

 one of your many fists probably a meteor did this 
 everything is green fertile now in rows 

 where earth unzips her gown 
 more of your signs 


 in the White Mountains 

 above the caldera the dictean cave 
 where your mother hid you 
 from your devouring father 

 the blind force of time 
 she placed a stone at the cave mouth 
 he tried to swallow choked him 

 today we climb to that same mouth 
 step from bald sunlight 
 into chill shadow, spiral carefully 

 down limestone stairs around wet curves of stalagtites 
 purple and yellow like bruises, very deep 
 inside this stone intestine 

 is a pool, 
 we cross a small bridge, 
 how restful it is here 

 in the first home of the sky god 


 the clothing of the island is olive groves 
 trim vineyards, crags 
 sudden ruins 

 the secondary road finds a crest and clings to it 
 you look back over the Libyan Sea 

 you stop in a village on a hillside that drops away 
 to a wide valley where a woman on a donkey climbs 

 up a path goats spilling after 
 like the train of a wedding gown 

 fine dust-free air 
 fine emptiness 

 a plane tree up behind the church a spring 
 a stone trough with six faucets six lion heads 

 an old man in the morning square at the cliff edge begs 
 a retarded boy with a treelimb plays horse 

 an old woman waters her vegetables 
 someone is building a house 

 fine emptiness 
 fine dust-free air 

 Copyright 2000, Alicia Ostriker