Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

SPEAKING ISLAND

For my daughters
1.

Wind seethes deep in the coconut palms,
weaves those spiky leaves into weapons
of samurai rain

then slowly unsheathes the sun—a changeableness
the blood gathers: pelican gulp of the breeze,
blue heron cloaked in mangrove root

and shadow. You drink deeply this moss-tangled
heaven, clasped securely in talons
of sun and air.

2.

From the yellow frangipani, joy in fragrance.
The red hibiscus flares. Welcome
to the sun, to bare skin, the realm

of the body, sweet odors of star-blossoming
hands, home still green and butterfly-
golden, aroma

of fresh coffee, vanilla bean, tapioca,
ginger. Your toes and fingers, lips and throat
sing.

3.

What language does the earth speak?
Perhaps tongues near to the equator know
bone-fire Gaelic or Upper Ganges Greek:

some subterranean text darker than Swahili
that bubbles up from a fissure deep
as grief.

It's something about the trees that gives
meaning: the way they sway, the way they lean
toward death.

4.

And the sea—what vowels or consonants
does the sea utter? Sunlight faltering west
cuts the night to ribbons, prisms

of light risen from the underworld
of the moment. It's the light falling
and the slashed night

risen, and the mind a full moon tidal
in its power: once again, to be cupped
in the palm of beauty.

c h a r l e s   f i s h m a n
e a s t   p a t c h o g u e ,   n e w   y o r k

Fishman writes: "I was not born on the islands and have never lived there for long periods, but I feel a spiritual & physical connection to the Caribbean and am continually pulled back with the tides of my life: to Jamaica, where my wife and I were married; to Antigua, where we went to breathe again, after an 8-month separation; to Barbados, where we took our daughters on a pivotal journey that bonded all of us together once again; to St. Vincent, St. John, St. Martin, Puerto Rico & Aruba, far-flung points on the map that continue to singe, sing, & shine."

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