Hotel Filoxenia

By Perry Nicholas

The hotelkeeper, Marika,

does everything she can to make

this place what its name suggests:

friend to strangers.

I’m an odd Odysseus

dragging a suitcase up

a hundred stairs, huffing,

embarrassed I’m still searching at my age.

I’d just as soon hole up in my cabin

than fight my way along cobblestone paths

with half the heart I had

when I played soccer here as a boy.

I hesitate to hold onto Marika’s arm

since men don’t touch married women in Greece,

but she senses I am struggling,

takes my elbow anyway, stares straight ahead.

We don’t need to say anything — for this final leg,

she’s a silent figurehead guiding her sailor home.

PERRY NICHOLAS will join poet Katherine Russell in the debut of the new Circleformance Reading Series at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Meridian West Gallery, 1209 Hertel Ave. Nicholas is an assistant professor of English at Erie Community College North, where he was awarded the 2008 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities and the 2011 President’s Award for Classroom Instruction. He is the author of four collections of poetry, including “BEGINNINGS: Poems to Greece and Back” (2013), in which this poem appears.