Nostos — Ithaka (extracts)

The landing
The truth about stones is some fit in your palm,
some you lay your palms upon.
If you press a stone with your finger,
your finger is also pressed by the stone.
If you pull a stone on a rope
the stone pulls you back.
If you carry a stone in your pocket
you can smooth it with your thumb.
I collect pebbles from Ithaka
and intend to bring them home.
Kalliope speaks
You want room? I have 
very goot room, goot douch. 
Goot tourist, Greeks no goot. 
You come. 
You cook with olive oil? 
Goot gal, goot gal. 
Kleiste tin porta. 
Where are you going? 
You no bang door, 
you break the plaster. 
Up the hill
The truth about raindrops is 
they are not shaped like tears.
As raindrops fall they become balls, 
burger buns, parachutes, then donuts.
Rain is only sad in wet places,
others greet it with euphoria.
Water is containment and travel,
it worries at earth and stone.
Things do smell better after rain, like
wild oregano up the hill from Vathy.
Making dinner

Spyros asks me You believe
God? I’m not sure how

he’ll react, so I look at my hands.
Atheist, I say.

Ah, Atheos! Kommounistiko! 
kalo koritsee — goot gal. 

He takes both my hands.
pole kalo, my friend! 

Kalliope skulks behind us
in the kitchen. She’s boiling up eggs

and spinach, buttered 
white bread for dinner.

Mutters, o yeros anoeetos
(old fool).

Kalliope gives me the Evil Eye
Here, you take, 
you keep away Mati — 
Evil Eye. She spits 
touh, touh, touh 
and signs the cross. 
The blue glass eye stares 
up at me from my palm. 
Efharisto, I say, thank you. 
She waits, then, realising 
I’m lost, pins it to me 
like a name badge on 
a child at camp. 


Helen Heath lives in the sea-side village of Paekakariki, on the Kapiti Coast. She completed an MA in creative writing at Victoria University in 2009. Her poetry has been published in many journals in New Zealand and Australia. Most recently she’s had a chap-book of poems published by Seraph Press called Watching for SmokeHelen also blogs at Show Your Workings.