The island slays us.
I arise and spurn the dawn over the eastern horizon.
The east is where his body washed ashore:
bone-colored board still leashed to bloating ankle
and fin sticking up
like a white shark beached among the rocks.
Both poached by the coming storm—
only the third of its size to strike
in a century. He celebrated her name
like one of Poseidon’s daughters,
studied the winds bending the coconut palms
and the washing-machine waves tumbling
higher and higher,
and while those who could, fled,
the hotel dim and full of echoes,
the beach umbrellas bundled and stowed,
he and his brethren
paddled, ducked and skated down swells.
I faced the brewing skies only long enough
to speak once into the kicking wind, “Fools.”
I was halfway to Bridgetown
when they pulled him from the beach
at the foot of the castle
and stretched him out underneath
the coconut palms for the sea to reclaim:
They say he tumbled under-current
and his head struck a rock—
a common danger to those who learn the sea
from surface to sand.
But I did not turn back to that side of our island
where the pirate’s cove robbed me
of husband and home in an hour.
Once I bathed on the beach, regarding
the great Atlantic
with humility while he charged her,
a knight wielding his lance.
But now the eye of the sea-goddess has passed.
(Why do they never give her an African name?)
The port is broken, the eastern sea red, thick
with floating fish and the dead, the odor of bodies
To escape their ash we have fled here,
to high ground and hallowed, corrupt history.
The living to scrape together life in the sands.
Death to death.
To Bathsheba I retreat.