Kos, Greek Island

For Alan Kurdi (2012-2015)

It is the Aegean Sea and two
miles that separates us from
the Anatolian coast of Turkey,
where salt water spilled
over the face of a toddler
I will never meet:
red shirt, white Velcro shoes
on the September 4th news,
he and other refugees from Syria.

I watch from my kitchen window,
facing the ocean, waiting for more
to come, washing green peppers
and drying them in my apron,
cradling the food like they are children
who love my gemisto bifteki,
or my bougiourdi, what I would help
my mother make as a girl. Now
those memories escape me when
I stop tending the tomato sauce,
blurring past me out the window
like a cleaver through folds of waves
trying to pop back and escort
families to land, and eat with me.

With the storm growing, I will rise
before morning, the water
grown up to reach my window,
telling me no more will come—
no, only more headlines of war
make their way to my house,
leaving my beach empty.

Rebecca O'Bern's poetry has appeared in Connecticut Review, Hartskill Review, South 85 Journal, Blue Monday Review, and other journals. Her work has been awarded the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize, and she is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Southern Connecticut State University. In addition to writing, she enjoys standup comedy, kayaking, and playing piano. Read other articles by Rebecca.