The Balcony I Sit On

by Nicholas Samaras


Thin and horizontal, running the entire width of the building face,
the balcony on the cliff overhang, made of wooden slats gone

grey with time and weather, in the high altitude and place
where time is weather. Looking down through the narrow planks,

a thousand-foot drop. Grey stones of the cliff-face, green cowls of treetops
cascading a league below me, the way clouds float in beneath us

during squall-light. I once asked, when do they replace the rickety
balcony boards—to be told, whenever somebody breaks through them.

For now, this thin place where I love to sit for afternoons in a chair,
as if suspended in air, gazing over a blue ocean-sheen

in which time drowns. Staying here long enough to forget what day it is,
where I came from, writing down this transparent wind, the view,

an expansive vista, the spirit of air, snippets of sounds that carry in
over water and distance, watching the mountain range

wrinkle itself into haze and plunge to the sea.
I could stay here forever, have pilgrimaged here forever,

grateful to lose myself in distance and contentment, to retreat
to a thin, high place, looking outward, sensing inward—

this precarious balance, the simplicity of paper and pen,
time and weather, writing down the unspoken.



Nicholas Samaras is from Patmos, Greece (the “Island of the Apocalypse”) and at the time of the political Greek Junta (“Coup of the Generals”) was brought in exile to be raised further in America. He has lived in Greece, Asia Minor, England, Wales, Brussels, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, and thirteen states in the United States of America. He writes from a place of permanent exile.

Individual poems have been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Paris Review, Poetry, the New Republic, and many other publications. His first book of poetry, “Hands of the Saddlemaker,” received the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. He is currently writing a poetry textbook.