Issue 169, Spring 2004
I don’t have to tell you. The small birds—
red and black finches, khaki banana quits—
invaded our bungalow, snatched crumbs, devoured
a hand of finger-sized fruits while we slept.
Below, pelicans skimmed Hurricane Bay.
Hummingbirds probed the gaudy flowering
cactus. Outside the door, a torch of flowering
cannas. A green crab dead in the sun. One bird
crashing night and day into Hurricane Bay
reflected in our mirror. One of the quits.
We turned the mirror to the wall and finally slept.
Next day, we drove around the island, devoured
flying fish sandwiches, conch fritters. Devoured
our books on the deck: Boston gossip, flowering
in Egypt, Aubrey on the high seas. We slept
under mosquito nets, and next day bought birds
modeled in clay—a pair of playful quits
perched on the lip of a bowl. We swam in the bay.
Afraid of the sun, we only went to the bay
in the late afternoon. We drove to lunch, devouring
curried chicken in tiled courtyards. Finches and quits
sipped our Planter’s Punch. Shaded by flowering
shrubs, lulled by the plash of fountains, the birds
didn’t remember where Lord Nelson slept,
the turning of sugar mills, masters who slept
in the stone house overlooking another bay.
We hiked the cloud forest, stalking wild birds.
Green monkeys imported from France devoured
bananas. Naturalized, they swung among flowering
orchids. Hot and tired, we called it quits.
That was the night I got sick. You offered to quit
the place, but I couldn’t move. I slept
fitfully, dreaming you assembled jigsaws of the bay
in the dark, drank rum and sang about flowering
shrubs floating out to sea, and pelicans devouring
fishermen. I can still see the birds—
Birds everywhere. I envied them, finches and quits
sipping the honeyed tea, devouring dry toast. I slept
above Hurricane Bay and dreamt of flowering.