You add water to a glass of ouzo
and a genie-less smoke rises in it asking, "What is it you wish?"
the ardent clear spirit distilled from the lees of wine
suddenly wreathed in opalescent fumes,
and boiling away the sediment of your life, and distilling the day
while you sit at a rough table in the mid-morning in front of the sea --
so you see there in the glass the vaporous myth of Plato's cave,
the man bound in chains, the theatre of shadows,
and beyond this, the sun's world-filling light.
The day becomes simpler and simpler,
the day wakes you into light, you drink thick coffee,
walk and swim and sleep in the afternoon,
sit and wait for the blackness of the night to bloom,
the small brilliant white multitudinous flowers of the stars
to bloom from infinitely within the night's blooming.
And there is nothing here to wish for except what is --
nothing except the instant opening,
the sea clear as alcohol, the collapsed waves' foam bubbles
crackling along the sand like a delicate fire,
the distinct self-scoured sand grains, glasses of ouzo themselves,
and the nearby profusion of houses, all exquisite white words
strung around the hills, and the hills a smile of death.
And the old waiter who sets down the ouzo,
who makes his way without effort and with a strange beauty
around and around the perfectly arranged tables,
I see now he is the man who broke free of his chains
and walked out of the cave into the light of day.
It is as if he is the first person I have ever seen;
I do not know how it is that the wrinkles of his face
seem to multiply in the sun, nor how I now look at him through eyes
that are not mine, and he only smiles, for they are his eyes,
nor how it is that he is also young.
His eyes ask me what it is I wish, and he already knows
that it can be nothing except to wait for all blackness to deepen
and become one with all light, the hills here as they darken
and the sun's fire, come into clarity --
to wait to be placed for every question to return as an answer;
to wait to be placed in chains endless, transparent,
and travelling the absolute in flow.