Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

IN THE SHADOW OF BUTTERFLIES

Zebra, flambeau, fritillary:
As young, they feed on passion flowers
(so named by the Spanish Jesuits
for the sufferings of Christ).
Now, as if small trees could fly,
they make a moving shade.
And when the wind blows from Africa,
scattering them with dust beyond their own,
they enter the slaves' story
of how people could fly.
There were those, it is told,
who could lift from their agony,
who could fly with the passion of loss—
sudden shadows rising over the fields,
smaller and smaller, like insects, like dust.
                                

THE WINNING ENTRY, COMBINED FRUITS CATEGORY,
FLOWER SHOW AT THE BOTANIC GARDENS, TORTOLA

Lime, tamarind, pomegranate,
Peruvian gooseberry, Surinam cherries:
The ghost of a still life artist
floats over this basket, touching
the pear guava, brushing the passion fruit,
rearranging the cactus berries,
turning ever so slightly the papaya,
placing a black beetle beside the grapefruit.
Then the crowd behind moves, a giant leaf,
and the judge stops here,
saying yes, this, yes!
                                

THE ROOSTER IN THE CEMETERY
OF ST. GEORGE THE MARTYR, TORTOLA

The rooster is right to scratch about,
crowing on the idle graves.
Look at them—leaning and humped over,
slovenly under golden trumpet vines
busy with butterflies.
See how early some of them left—
the 27-year-old assistant paymaster
of some long-wrecked ship;
the 35-year-old wife of a master mariner,
his charts scattered in disbelief;
even infants. Think of the work not done,
cargo unloaded, maps not read, clothes unfolded.
Hurry, rooster, with your wives and broods.
Wake up this place that sleeps so late
beneath the perfumed frangipani tree
and call them to the Mass of Discontent.
No matter how the dusty noon lies down,
wind, our master, still rises in the east.

s h e i l a   n i c k e r s o n
b e l l i n g h a m ,   w a s h i n g t o n

Nickerson and her husband Martin have spent winter months
on their sailboat cruising the Caribbean and homeporting in Tortola
and Antigua.

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