I Go Back to Mykonos 1976

by Maria Nazos
Featured Art: “Mykonos” – Maria Karalyos

                                                                             —after Sharon Olds’ “I Go Back to May 1937”

By the third martini, he’ll ask her to marry him.
She’s a tourist, he’s a captain, home by chance.
I stand at the window, watching. I want to walk
into that bar, order an ouzo, and tell them
that, together, they’ll create a new generation
of pain. I want to tell him to court the island girl,
the one who, forty years later, will see him, run
to the restroom, and return with a fresh coat
of lipstick. I want to tell my young mother,
in the words of the great North American philosopher,
Pamela Anderson, “Never get married on vacation.”
But this is long before Pam and Tommy Lee, before
I existed. Before Reagan reigned over his long line of wreckage,
and couples shot themselves, together, in their cars. The Vietnam War
has ended, but here I am standing
at the window, watching while they meet,
both oblivious of wars they’ll wage. They’ll move
from Greece back to the Midwest—she’ll drink, alone,
in her kitchen. He’ll return to the island every chance
he gets. When he’s back in Illinois, he’ll stare
into the aquarium and long for water. She’ll look
at him, frozen, behind her highball glass. Still, I stay
at the window of the bar, wanting to use Pam’s biting wit.
But this is long before Baywatch, and they’re gazing at the
bay. I tap the glass like Morse code. Sealed in
my own tank of silence, I say, Please let go.
But as they take each other’s hands, I softly touch
the pane and turn away. Because they, too, have the right
to plunge. Even if they’ll swim out too deep:
holding onto each other until death.


Maria Nazos’s writing been published in The New Yorker, The Tampa Review, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of A Hymn That Meanders, (Wising Up Press, 2011) and the chapbook Still Life (Dancing Girl Press, 2016). She has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and scholarships from The Sewanee Writers’ Conference. A recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s English Ph.D. program, she can be found at marianazos.com.

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