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We wrapped thyme in olive leaves
& burned Heracleum until no one
was left on the black sand beach.
We dreamed that Appalachia ended
except the two of us on this Greek island.
When we heard the news of your death,
we were eating—fava beans, olives, & golden beets.
Tiny creatures from the underworld
struggled on the skein of the sea.
This evening, we are sick. The wind sends
an umbrella drumming down the beach.
We dreamed you survived the car crash
& your husband went running into the sky.
The wind blows and blows. A parade
of husbands and wives walk down thin
alleyways and out into the moon’s foam.

We send this poem-ritual off into the Aegean.
We are stained by the wind.

Nathan Erwin is a land-based poet who was raised on the Allegheny Plateau, the northernmost tier of Appalachia. An IAF and Harvard trained organizer, Erwin currently operates at Boston Medical Center to prevent overdose deaths and at the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust building healthy futures for farmers and land stewards. His writing has most recently appeared in Ninth Letter, Willow Springs, FOLIO, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Bombay Gin.  His organizing and his poetry are conversant, and so he writes about land, drugs, myths, and wanting.

© 2023, Nathan Erwin

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