In Transition

I’ve been in transition these past few weeks, moving from the US Virgin Islands back to Maine. It’s quite a jarring change, reacquainting myself with black flies, cold rain and frigid east winds. I miss my afternoon walks by Leinster Bay, and the warm volcanic rock where I sat to digest my day as the sun went down behind Mary’s Point. In seven years, I never did catch the ephemeral green flash.

I’m focusing on the chill night sky now, the big dipper hanging low in the north-west, filling my bedroom window. I feel certain that one of these nights I’m going to hear the great horned owl, and see the sky illuminated by the Northern Lights again.

It’s the glass that bothers me. This separation between the indoors and out. I’ve grown accustomed to living with all my windows and doors open day and night, with no sense of separation. This is hardly possible in Maine. I feel like I may suffocate at any moment.

This move back to a place I lived for over twenty years is forcing me to reevaluate my own expectations, my needs and desires. Until I moved to the amenable climate of the Caribbean, I took struggle to survive for granted, closed doors and windows never bothered me.

I grew up in the Northeast. You could freeze to death or starve in winter if you weren’t careful, didn’t plan ahead. Like a squirrel, I put up firewood a year in advance, stocked the freezer. So much more. On St. John, I lived in the day, except during Hurricane Season, when an eye was held to the forecast.

I’ve unintentionally opened myself to a whole new theme for personal essay. I am embracing that. One day, perhaps, I’ll even turn the thermostat here to something lower than 72—when my blood thickens again.

Caribbean Lover

The wind here is like a lover’s moist breath. You hear it rustling the leaves of turpentine, genip and flamboyant as it closes in, long before it leaks down over the east flank of Bordeaux and sends the tyer palm fronds clacking in an ecstasy of motion. They sway and bob, pendulums in the breath of the earth. This sultry breath caresses your exposed parts, seduces the frigid flesh, causing you to cast off your hoodie fleece, step out of your long pants and open stiff limbs to its embrace.

Looking northeast from Ram Head, St John, USVIEverything you knew you had to do, every promise you have made to yourself and others dissolves in the face of this seductress. You fail in your commitments. The wood goes unsplit, the trees untapped. Stovepipes ooze with creosote. The cat, trapped outside with the garage door open a crack, fends off raccoons. A dog whimpers and paces in the friendly neighborhood kennel. Mail piles up unopened, no phone calls are returned. Your car becomes a habitat for white footed mice, which shred the registration and insurance papers carelessly left unprotected in the glove box.

If you are not cautious, you will contract a terminal disease here in the Caribbean. It will ravage your will and cause your skin to shrivel prematurely. You will become careless with hard earned income, dream of timelessness and become a schemer, really believe you can live on a boat.

If you are unprepared for this satyr of the middle latitudes, its hot breath will pin you to the sand, have its way with you and move on, like all serious lovers do, the the next innocent set of open arms.

© 2012 Jennifer Pierce

An old thought coming around again, for Zander

Here’s the start of a poem I never reworked. I’m hoping to get back to this place for a week or two before my courses start again.

This comes to me
As I turn over
And sounds come in.
I have given myself
The gift of these empty days
The indulgence of napping
When drowsiness overtakes me.
I resist halfheartedly, then recall
Because of this gift I have
Knowledge of the red spot
Above the bananaquit’s eye
As he chatters on the deck
Demanding bath water
In his teal green tray.
I hear too what I think
is a man shouting
From a long way off
On the tower up the mountain
Or the short term rental before
Or is it one of the goats
Separated from its flock
In the valley
down the gut?
In my humid stupor
These sounds come to me
amidst thankfulness for this time
I wonder, but not too much.
No rushing about accomplishing
More than is necessary, doing some things
While Missing many others, filling
More of one lifetime with tasks
Not nearly as meaningful.
This time now is
To slow down in
Rest a while
Before speeding up again.
Why hurry?
I hear it again now,
It is sleep calling.

Erosion

This is a poem I wrote quickly last May. It seems fitting to posit if after phone conversations with residents of St. John, and looking at some news photos of Coral Bay after Otto’s rains have washed down the hills.

Rainstorm Where Man Has Been

Oh the agony
of a simple rain storm.
The gut
runs wild with pleasure
among the boulders
unaware
carrying bits of earth
seaward
runs earth stained
and soil saturated
seaward
engorged with the flesh
of the hillside
where this small gash
and that one too
has bled out
revealing
scoured wounds
in the gravel roadbed.
Even the trees shiver
and weep  for the lost earth.

© 2010 Jennifer Pierce