This poem was published in Writ, 20th Anniversary Issue (No. 21, 1989). Though the inspiration was my love for Bermuda, I have a long-time deep affection for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as well, and their heartbreak and resilience are much on my mind.
After you rode there on horseback
in the flowered breeze
under trees so sweet they curled shyly
when you touched them
you felt you’d earned the right
to lope on the crest like a movie star
absurdly romantic, impossibly attractive.
The sand was talcum powder
peach-colored and toast-warm as you ran
from your horse toward the surf.
In the warm waves that tumbled finned
people and little fish like dice
there was the surprise of not knowing
where your body ended.
Farther out you could gurgle
in rubber tubes and view widescreen technicolor drama
—your spongy hand visible on center screen
pointing with newfound grace
at purple lace waving under yellow trees
and rainbow actors skimming in and out
of orange doors. Back on the beach you’d eat
sweet onions glazed in sugar and rum
shared by whispering locals
sweet and shy as the bending trees.
When you rode back, imagining
your own silhouette against the orange sky
your thin shirt open in the still-warm breeze
the longtails swooped for insects
and the frogs sang like rusty swing-sets
behind the closing credits.