Dimitra Kotoula

Translated from the Modern Greek by Maria Nazos

Moods XV

Our talks kept us late into the middle of night.
We are in shadows.
Around us objects
all those small familiar things that bound us
animated with peace
recite their names: chairtablecrock.

The soul asks for nothing anymore.
I mull over the great loves
like a rhythmically heaving chest
your face pressed against the window
and the window
(a strange plant dances in the rain)

The firs steam in the midst of their sleep.
Wind hovers over the stars.
Drowsy colonies of moss
burn side-by-side in silence.
How is the night so dark
if the sky is lurking
if right outside the moon
and this earth’s mystical life—
The eyes of wild animals take in your taste.
Your lips are chilled
and the dawn will come
like snow flooding down from a purple cloud.

Erotikon I

There’s a breeze.

The autumn sea’s molten amber
dries up in the south
and between words
(words you once recited against the horizon)
the memory of a splendor:
now false.
Nights it stands watching you.
In the mornings its shadow greets you—
                                                            you said.

The way through: none:
no way through to another kind of intimacy 
where things are what they are
where the soul is endlessly exposed to things and aftermaths
like a bride who offers her truth to her lover as a gift
visible: none:
only a mechanism of moments
a series of events
still binds
what remains
in the languid morning air
floating               un-
between them.

Oh, if only it could be heard
the roots of the mind

                                          as there

(the warm heat of insomnia stuns your face)

where the notion of tree becomes tree again
as the thin grass grows suddenly tall with the power of your cry

the place of origin

(darkness)            (in vain)            (spreads)            (by time)


all is            gathered            below the shade

-the mind’s little silly shadow-
without belief
without struggle
without seeking confirmation—

The wind smoothens stone.
A butterfly weaves mirages.
The eye a liquid wound.

The air is still pure:

selfish words already writhe in your hands
you write to prove the soul is dead the epic of those sacred no longer means anything

—almost like a poet—

you write without believing in names
taking things down from their names

(her eyes still hold the warmth of the garden)
(her nubile nipples quake, stabbing the blue)

A wind floods in from afar
bringing tears upon the trees.
Time slowly fills the room

                                          don’t you believe me;

The moon hardly balances on the edge of things begotten.

The word is ablaze.

Watched by the unblinking eye.

Dimitra Kotoula was born in Komotini, Greece in 1974. She is the author of two poetry collections: Three Notes for a Melody (2004) and The Constant Narrative(2017). Her poetry and translations have been presented in literary and translation festivals and appeared on line as well as in poetry anthologies and journals in Europe and the United States, such as The Poetry ReviewMid-American ReviewThe Denver QuarterlyAnomalyPoesis International and Nuori Voima. She has translated and published, among others, selected poems by Jorie Graham, Louise Glück and Sharon Olds. Her work has been translated into nine languages. She now works and lives in Athens with her daughter.

Maria Nazos‘s poetry, translations, and lyrical essays are published in The New YorkerThe Tampa ReviewThe Mid-American ReviewThe North American ReviewThe Florida ReviewThe Southern Humanities ReviewThe Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. She is the author of A Hymn That Meanders, (2011 Wising Up Press) and the chapbook Still Life, (2016 Dancing Girl Press). Her work has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and scholarships from The Sewanee Writers’s Conference and Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. A Great Plains Fellow attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s PhD program, she studies and teaches creative writing. She can be found at

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