Sometimes a chalk-blue skiff
ferries me toward a
White because equatorial.
When I look back toward
the mainland I can’t see
the cemetery road that delivered me
after the little thornwood coffins
of children floating
in the salt marsh,
after the scummed bar mirrors
of remorseful drunks,
to that lacerated pier.
Still, there is always a boat tied up at the end,
a snaky painter that unties itself,
and the island ahead, shimmering.
— an island off the Yucatecan coast
Some years ago, San Martin de las Porres
patron of beasts and beauticians,
walked into my dream with a fried pompano,
fresh from the boiling oil of a giant steel drum
set on coals and stoked by fishermen.
The crisp fish-eye loosed from its socket,
revolved in my palm - soft marble,
blind world, my future housed there,
uncertain as sea or the words of a tropical saint
murmured in Mayan.
That night before sleep I learned to dance
the pachanga and the cumbia
beneath a string of bare light bulbs, electric filaments
twitching above us, coco palms lisping
with wind that might foretell hurricane.
The rummed dancers shone as if
they had swallowed fire. Scorpions curled
in thatched houses above woven hammocks
that finally netted the sleepers from midnight
beneath star-molt at the edge of sea-dark
which is not the same as land-locked night,
when black heaven closes the lid.
Sea-darkness opens - a platter of awe
where I am the central morsel, and though
I’ll be eaten alive by beauty and confusion
and the years will comb my flickering hair
for all ornamental desires, this night
will be left me, sweaty and luminous,
unmatched as the garlic-rubbed fish enjoyed threefold,
long ago at fiesta, in dream and now here.
Inspiegabile: The Requirements of a Miracle
(Prelude to the Naming of a Saint)
As defined by the Vatican:
The ailment must have been serious,
no mental disease or accidents.
Must have been objectively diagnosed.
No significant treatment given
and all medical cures failed.
Quick, complete and final recovery.
The miracle must have resulted from prayer.
Then it receives the word of approval,
inspiegabile - inexplicable.
Doctors determine the verity
of the unknown. Imagine Christ’s work
submitted to such scrutiny or for that matter
the holy translucence of fog above the city of angels
lit by emanations as various as mercury vapor
streetlamps and candles burning
for La Virgen de Guadalupe,
halogens focused on books of Divinity
in Chinese and Tagalog characters,
Arabic and Hebrew script, books
like the one I read about witches
burned weekly during the Inquisition,
or the green glow of time next to my bed,
even the noctiluca of the sea - little saints cast
off the rudders of boats that stir our dreams
with their phosphorescence.
There is no limit to the number of aureoled
things in this world, saints who ignore
the requirements, give partial healing
or none at all. Or whole healing all at once
for a moment. Inspiegabile.
Otherwise known as the Dobsonfly,
flew to our failing lamp before
the hunchback moon lured him away.
His crisp cellophane wings crossed
as he staggered up and down the picnic table
snookered by sputtering candlelight.
A fearsome creepy-crawly, three inches long
with segmented antennae and wangly
mandibles half the length of his body.
Predaceous, but not upon us,
the ancient creature clamped other
insects that bumbled into the lamp
while we sipped wine and plucked apart
the fried trout hooked that morning
when silvery, he blundered toward woozy sun.
Someone said, always treat the god in disguise
as a guest at one’s table. So we let Dobson stay
though his moves were skanky.
Later I read that he’s the most
primitive of all insects
that lumbers through metamorphosis.
Even the gods shift around
enacting their monstrous hungers.
Even now they maul our days.
Thanks be to rapacity then, to end of
summer and fish, to all the clumsy appetites
we can’t untangle from our prayers.
photo credit: Andrea Bricco