A sampling from THE EARTH-BOAT (2nd Edition)

A sampling from THE EARTH-BOAT (2nd Edition)


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.


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