Sounion Greece, 2004

Here, it is said, Aegeas flung his old,
tired body to the endless breakers’ roll
as, patiently, they smoothed out jagged stones
and groomed the shoreline — grave for his lost bones.

Above, a temple to Poseidon stands,
so well-preserved one might imagine hands
raised up in worship, and the temple maids
in virgin’s dresses, hair tied up in braids.

High on the jagged cliffs, the breakers churn
against black boulders. Undulations turn
blue water to a shade of burgundy.
I understand the phrase “the wine-dark sea” —

dark red, just like the house-wine we consumed
at a café a block from where we roomed.
We watched soccer, ate squid, then the bus ride
down to the site of Aegeas’ suicide.

Somewhere here Lord Byron etched his name
(so we were told) in stone. We played a game:
whoever found it first, the rest would pay
for that one’s supper at the end of day.

We never found it, though God knows we tried.
The rock, pale, crumbly, thin and grey, could hide
one name and keep it in obscurity.
Aegeas wrote his name upon the sea.

David W. Landrum teaches English and poetry at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has published poems in The Formalist, Hellas, Classical Outlook, The Lyric, and other journals.

First published in Measure, Volume 1 (2006)