House Song #3
That brute midwinter we fled further south
and showered in the garden’s open mouth,
and dined on not-quite-cool though not-yet-warm
tree ripened mangoes harvested each dawn,
on buoyant green bananas, curved like boats,
and, once, on the roasted testicles of goats.
Delighted by the first few whirr-winged blurs
of through-the-glassless-window, wind-launched birds,
we latched all shutters open, day and night,
secured our shelter in the path of flight,
and slept with stars, on firefly-stitched bedding,
beneath sheer drapes of pale green nylon netting.
Those tents would breathe with breezes in the dark,
each whoosh a whispered lesson in the art
of constant trespass. Rested, tradewind-schooled,
we spent one lonely burning afternoon,
in a fenceless orchard, listening to the sound
of heavy grapefruits thumping on the ground.
Impetuous, you’d burned your upper lip
on unknown berries. Coral-cut, I’d slipped
from rocks a sudden tide-turn’s wavecrest swept.
We both collapsed on shore. And as we slept,
our rucksack unattended, thinned by theft,
soon yielded up what little we had left.
We’d traded nesting tax for smoke and axe,
and peeled longs strips of dead skin from our backs.
And on the day we left, as we packed our clothes—
from closets we’d left blithely unenclosed,
great clouds of now disturbed mosquitoes rose
buzzing farewell oratorios.
(Point Baptiste, Dominica—1985)
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim