After hurricane Gilbert, this place was only shredded jungle. Now it’s Jesús and Lídia’s casa,
built by him, by hand, weekends and vacations, the way my father built our first house. Years
we’ve watched the house expand, two rooms to three, to four, to five. The yard, just a patch of gouged
sand and shattered palmettos once, is covered now in trimmed grass, bordered by blushing frangipani
and pepper plants—jalapeños, habaneros—and this slender tree Jesús planted three years back,
a stick with tentative leaves then out of a Yuban coffee can, but now thirty feet high, its branches laden
with guanábana—dark green pear-shaped fruit with spiky skin and snowy flesh, with seeds
like obsidian tears. Jesús carves out a bite and offers it on the flat of his big knife’s blade:
the texture’s melonish, the taste wild and sweet—like the lives we build after hurricanes.
Voice of the Fountain
For John Ransom and Barb Mastej
Evening into night we sipped peppery wine in the garden,caverned in vines and leaves edged with mood-light colors. Our voices and the mazy voice of the fountain mingled, wandering out over the moon-mottled grass. Now held its breath, held past and future in abeyance, turned them to pure fragrance: green ginger, ocean, stars….
Toward midnight we stood for goodbyes … but lingered,gabbing, till John bent down by the ivied fence like some lanky old-time god, and flicked off first the tinted lights, then the fountain. A shock, hearing the water silenced that we’d all silently agreed to believe (that, looking back, I still believe) had come bubbling up fresh, fresh from the heart of the Earth.