Friday, March 14, 2008

Island Child

A student asks, “Have you been tall ever since, Miss?”
He stands next to me, black hair level with my shoulder.
Another climbs onto his desk, “Even me, Miss. I’m tall.”
Laughter from the shy students near the wall, the ones
who hold hands over their mouths to speak.

I too always found a wall. Now I live in the middle
of a deep ocean and talk all day long.

We read one of Donne’s Meditations—

No man is an . . . .

Even me.
Ever since.

How to live here

Walk home from work for The First Time. This is big. It’s a small island with roads of coral that go slick in rain. Drunk drivers are everywhere, sidewalks aren’t. When you walk on the white line (no shoulder), face the traffic, just in case.

Men will honk. Women will stop and ask, brows wrinkling, “Do you need a ride?”

And then the dogs. The many, many dogs. Descended from dingos. Lean and mean. When you walk down to the coffee shop from your house, pick up four coral stones in case you need to throw them.

To ignore the traffic, pick a plumeria and spin its stem until it the petals blur.

When you pass a house and five dogs bound out from behind it, freeze. Remember what you’re holding. Flower in one hand. Stones in the other.