Nicholas Samaras is a poet and essayist, and author of Hands of the Saddlemaker (1992), which won the 1991 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Born in England in 1952, Samaras was raised there and in Massachusetts, later settling in New York. He is the son of Bishop Kallistos Samaras, a prominent Greek Orthodox priest and theologian.
His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, American Scholar, the Kenyon Review, the New Republic, the Albany Review and many other publications. He received his undergraduate degree from Hellenic College in Brookline, Mass., his MFA from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in English and creative writing from the University of Denver. He lies in West Nyack, New York.
This poem is from Hands of the Saddlemaker, which, by the way, has a foreword by the late James Dickey.
A Plum Night in Jerusalem, Three A.M.
Go out into a dry, blue heat.
Walk alone in a sleeping city.
Leave your friend sleeping.
Curve and wind through the old sector.
Come to live only in the old sector.
Mark how fine the dust is, now
smooth the cobbled hallways,
how much they are what they are.
Listen to where the report and echo
of your footsteps go, how
many years they travel back.
Know that a city is in its deserted hours.
Know that to be alone is to be for once yourself.
And know there are
stones that breathe.
Stones that remember you,
remember the weight of your stance,
where you’ve come from and are
going for years.