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Donna J. Gelagotis Lee: Two poems

Leaving You

The broken night on a hinge
of moonlight threatens to fall.

But the waves relentless
in their crashing do not pause

long enough.


She had no words to give that country.
So she gave it translation,

verbalizing what the eye saw,
with unfamiliar

letters and sounds — psomi, bread,
gata, cat, skilos, dog, milo, apple —

then the short sentence of desire —
thelo, I want. Then thelo, I

don’t want. She’d vacillate. This
country. That.

The heat slowed the body.
Words wanted to roll back down

the throat, like eyes rolling back
in the ecstasy of sleep,

in the siesta of dream — the body
lulled with a rhythm of wind

that deviated down tunneled roads, breeze
whistling inaudibly over scarlet poppies

struggling beside limestone rock.
She was burnt with it, hollowed

by it, that lazy eye of want she
could not address. It burned

into the landscape until the land-
scape spoke for her, and she listened,

and she answered without a word
it did not understand.

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee’s book, On the Altar of Greece, is the winner of the Seventh Annual Gival Press Poetry Award. The collection received a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award: Notable for Art Category and was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and other awards. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary and scholarly journals. She lived in Greece for many years. Her website is

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