Used to be bootleg tapes and bone bracelets
from vendors lining the promenade at Christmas.

Enameled bottle caps and cigarette lighters
with pictures of Our Lady of Lourdes. I pinched

sunflower seeds from Božo, the street peddler,
swiped hairpins from drugstore displays.

Between seizures, Koka’s retarded uncle Toni
used to rock in their den by the floor lamp,

like a Muslim bowing down on a prayer rug,
his 60 watt minaret glowing. Friday afternoons,

houses dazed after boiled chard and fried hake,
Koka and I would snatch his morphine and valium,

a handful of temazepam. Toni’s dead now,
and so is Božo. The market’s cleaned up, too,

the trinkets lost or broken. Tonight,
the gutters drool, and across the street

a man with a bedroll sits under the same chestnut
where he’s been sitting for 25 years, shared bread heels

with pigeons. A woman drifts by with a cart
of belongings, while in here “Trouble Loves Me”

crashes against the walls, beats at my temples—
the needle-throb of that unflinching fact:

an unwilling man can’t be taken. I tell the truth to shut
its mouth, shrimp itself into the corner. Even then,

I smell you in my evening coffee, picture you at your desk:
fingers dug into hair, dark, shiny as rain-soaked turf—

wringing out words. And again, the scenario of desire
plays out: stealing weekends by that estuary,

where fresh water rushes into salt with a relief,
like the pull of the yellow to a ripening lemon,

hazelnuts and shreds of honeycomb on back roads,
moss-covered ground and arms for pillows—

because no sin can stain the soil, because
I’ll only let water hear the names you call me.

About the Poet:
Andrea Jurjević O'Rourke's poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming (under the name of Andrea O’Rourke) in The Missouri Review, Harpur Palate, The Rag, Barrelhouse, Raleigh Review, Verse Wisconsin, and elsewhere. She is the 2013 Robinson Jeffers Tor Prize Winner. A native of Croatia, she lives in Atlanta now, where she translates, paints (oils on cotton paper and acrylics on canvas) and attends the MFA program at Georgia State University.