I Wake in Heraklion with Lady Beetles

I Wake in Heraklion with Lady Beetles | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Reproduction of the “Ladies in Blue” fresco, ca 1525-1450 B.C. Completed by É. Gilliéron in the early 20th century and based on fragments of frescos found in Knossos, an archaeological site on Crete. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I am soft with healing after
I am luxuriant with good fortune after
I am cloaked by lady beetles a scent of salted olive, my nature after
all means spacious means rhododendron and a pretty mouth.

If I give the impression of canopied with black spots after
my sorrow believe me when I say I am in pursuit of myself and a kiss and might after
I be a ridge on Mount Ida might local winegrowers and cicadas might my hollow after
deep between my thighs be my greeting braced ̶

There’s femininity a softening
I’d forgotten.

I’d cherish the softening
Holy is the body

its roundness the flesh
its brine a sweet

secret at age 58
a shuttered

body a cherished resumé.
There’s so much song even in heartache and my heart the female body after
bird melody my simple request after

the seeded bread I’d bought at the base of Lasithi flavored with orange rind.
I am a Greek woman’s body I was told in the marketplace after
buying a potato and sea bream
the morning planes flew overhead celebrating Saint Minas when two vendors
said you are one of us you look like us the earthy

Polite. Greek.

And the lady beetles they mean I am composed of a million single cries.

Catherine Strisik is the author of The Mistress, which won the New Mexico/AZ Prize for Poetry in 2017. Insectum Gravitis is forthcoming from Main Street Rag.
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