Two Poems by Zoë Barnstone-Clark


Serifos Sestina

Every morning commences with white
sheets and the reluctance to leave their warmth.
Then feet land softly on lemon-
colored tile. Breakfast is served on blue
plates, eaten in haste for fear that the wind
will pick up and waves will be choppy on the sea.

Everyday involves a trip to the sea
and a trek through a maze of white
houses. Hair is blown wild by the wind
and skin is bronzed by the sun’s warmth.
Over the mountain, there is the shock of the water’s blue.
People frolick on the shore, adorned in swathes of rose and lemon.

On a midday break at the taverna, lemon
is squeezed on nearly every dish. The salt from the sea
complements the fresh vegetables and the somber blue
verses of Seferis. The sand, not quite white,
but as soft as satin provides the warmth
for an afternoon siesta as the earth grants a lullaby with the wind.

But at night the owls compete with the wind
to be the source of insomnia. The big lemon
in the sky begins to head west and its warmth
dissolves out of sight. Lying in bed, the sea-
sickness returns till the mind becomes blank and white.
The unconscious breeds dreams resembling Picasso’s blue

period. Windows are slammed against blue
shutters by the still wild wind
that has churned the seas into white
caps. The air becomes neurotic, soured by the lemon
of rumination. The restless sea
of thoughts is frigid and I long for the warmth

of the Aegean. Twilight promises a new day’s warmth
as the night sky fades to an auroral blue.
The tide of introspection rescinds and the sea
is calmed despite the persistence of the wind.
The hand of time squeezes the lemon
in the sky and sunlight pours down onto the white

houses. The day begins with warmth though the chill of the sea
spreads goosebumps across my skin. A white and blue
flag flutters in the wind– a nation that concurs: everything tastes better with lemon.


I shall repeat the groaning
and moaning of seeing
your face, so soon after a half night’s sleep.
Though you were in my headspace
when my dreams unraveled.

I shall repeat the shifting
in wooden seats and
the sifting through early morning

I shall repeat the reconfiguration
of my mindset, that,
“Yes, this is truly happening.”
So I can cope with the sharp
shock of fluorescent lights
and the institutional uniformity of linoleum.

I shall repeat the evaluation
of last night’s events
and hope the morning’s wisdom prevents
that I shall repeat
fighting to see only darkness—
to find simple sleep,
though my mother’s footsteps cause
the wood to creak.

I shall repeat my examination
of trees that play dead
in attempt to hide their beauty
from winter’s plague.

I shall repeat the wave of day—.
As I twist myself around,
twirling with the Earth around the Sun
until the Moon lulls me into white sheets.
Yet even then I can’t sleep.

Zoë Barnstone-Clark’s work has appeared in New Letters. She grew up in Columbia, Missouri, and is currently in her first year at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.


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