Sherod Santos

The Island


Like the two-storey clapboard farmhouse

Which, in a tornado outside Moberly,

Missouri, lifted up off its stone foundation,

Rotated one hundred and eighty degrees,

Then settled back down without disturbing

The sleeping couple inside; or the nest

Of unbroken sparrow eggs found cradled

Inside the wheel well of an over-turned

Tractor trailer; or a childís blue-pedestaled

Lunar globe (first glimpsed by a guard

On cell block D) dropped upright into

The work yard of a maximum security prison;

So too does memory warm to recollect

The dazed amazement of a moment lifted

And settled back down amidst the rubble

Of what, twenty years later, weíve come to call

Our ìdrinking daysî: a motel in the compound

Of some border casino near Tahoe,

The two of us having lost the little we had

To lose, and for all of that I awakened

To the spill-of-water sounds, the dream shape

Of you standing naked, drying your hair

In a steamed-over, gradually clearing mirror,

The slow but certain coming-into-being

Of who you were, or of who, perhaps,

Youíd hoped to be, the reverie of it

Playing across your face in shades I imagined,

First, of fear or loss, a feeling, in any case,

By which youíd summed up everything

We had handed down, open-eyed, to the iron

Uncertainties of happenstance. But no,

It seems Iíd merely superimposed my own

Fears onto you and so invoked a fate

Youíd prove the one reliable proof against,

For what happened next revised not only

What it was I thought I saw, but how

Iíve seen you ever since: you wrapped

A bath towel around your waist,

Knotted it at the side, and as if to set

Your own interior record straight,

Paused a moment to regard yourself

In the mindís eye of that mirror; and then,

Like a shipboard passenger gazing over

The railing at some island slowly coming

Into view, there rose to the light-touched

Surface of your face a smile whose pure

And unaffrighted calm composed

The world around you just as surely as

That half-turned house, those sparrow eggs,

That lunar globe inside the prison yard,

And the miracle of it (of you, my love)

Would never again be lost on me.