Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Pieces of a Key West Album

That flash was a wave,
   and the green palm blade...
these separate images sealed
   in high gloss paper,
if we could bring them together,
   what might we rescue?

In memory and in thin light
   you stand. The shadows of an afternoon
run across a dry gray deck.
There's a half smile and your long,
   black hair. That's our first meeting.
There's another image at the end--
   I no longer know how often I return to it--
where your eyes narrow with decision,
and your body half turns away.
You realize. Your foot already begins
   its first step back into the light you emerged from,
back to the place where you will vanish.
I offer no words, no touch. What do you offer
   to someone who is right?

Why do I bother to say the wave and the palm frond
   will not hold together?
They only ever made an island that's gone
no matter how much of it I assemble now,
no matter how many window frames,
no matter the fired brick flags that pave
   the back door to the gate you walked through.
I can carefully join it all into a perfect world
neither of us live in today.

I have watched us too, wandering
among the memorials of the island's citizens,
their names that stones recall
   though a mile out to sea the light flares
a thousand times on water
   and on iron fences of these graves
a frond will rasp.
The palm and the wave
   are together just as you vanish again
   and again I offer nothing to your parting.
I drop the hand that would have touched you.
I stop the lips that would have said the same tired word again.

We no longer have a place to rest,
not even among a grave of palms
with their small red flowers,
nor among the waves.
There's a boat out there
in the brilliance
and among the countless.
How it appears and disappears!
It falls between swells and rises
among waves that have gone on running,
among them where we can no longer be found.

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