Brazil, Imaginary Island
In trees, the embers stir, birds
whose feathers flare in the dark.
At night I hear my sons whispering
in their mosquito nets. Remember
how the leaves fell down?
The day is half light, half dark.
Thus the Spanish and the Portuguese
once split the world in two.
By the pool, the flowers droop.
The ones they call graça,
with their glowing throats
and feathered tongues.
Letter to Laura from Arembepe
In the thatch-roofed Hippy Village, the man is hacking open
a coconut. He drops a straw into the jagged hole. The smooth
white flesh, cup like an inverted moon.
Once Janis Joplin stayed here, slept in a hammock strung
between two palms; threw herself into the rough
surf, or lay floating on her back and stared at clear blue sky.
There it's getting cold again. Again, the heartbeat on the screen
grew faint and flickered out. When you told me your voice broke.
I didn't know if it was the weight of loss, or just the miles
of ocean the cable's buried under.
Here the shore's bicornate: split
along rocks' ventricle. The shallows where the children play,
the churning on the other side.
I hold my sons' small hands, and we wade in.
Even in the glassy calm, I feel the undertow,
ocean's umbilical tug.
My boys slip
beyond my grasp, their bodies slick as seals.
And Janis rises up beyond the sharp outcropping,
her hair wild, the woody shell of her voice
cracking, the sweet water spilling out.