The CSS Awards - Site of the Day

Trapped on Djerba, Island of the Lotus Eaters

Nomi Stone

You are walking through a long grove. Pebbly sand underfoot. On the edge, a field

of colossal flowers, sagging low with pollen. Have you been here before, you think?


The sky phosphoresces, broken triangles between branches and stems.

Above you, gigantic pistils and stamens mingling in the cups of the flowers.

Ticks twitch in grass. You feel alive. Also wary.


No one stops you when you climb inside those white necks, breathe into

those white necks and lose all sense.    Like

a girl’s belly, like the smell of her collarbone,


Like—And what’s more, the gulf was the same blue as the sky. We

(you were not alone) did not know which imitated which. Heavens stretched

out and up. Out, to that great sea roiling with histories. Up, implying

eternities. We lived equally between those blues. We still do.


“How to climb out of here?” asked one.


“Why?” answered another. Nothing exists

except what is one eyeblink below, one eyblink above.






Nomi Stone's first book of poems, Stranger’s Notebook (from which the above poem is excerpted) chronicles her time living in one of the last cohesive Jewish communities in North Africa. She has a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Creative Writing in Tunisia. Stone is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University. She has received poetry fellowships and grants from the Vermont Studio Center and the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities. To learn more, please check out the Northwestern University Press website at

A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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