Out of Sight, Out of Land
Still dawn, heading southeast
Out of Key Largo’s mangroves.
Watch your I-phone’s compass
move between 90 degrees to
120. Watch the low-lying island
Behind shrink into depths that
The Atlantic Ocean now commands.
And when your boat reaches
Some 4 or 5 windy miles out,
The mangroves sink finally below
The horizon line like some figment
Fading of last-night’s dream, where
The coral fossil escapes to the sea,
And islands again become invisible
Reefs and limestone after the wrath
Of a hurricane, when paranoia hooks
Your brain with a painful twist, and
You stare blindly into the wake that
Covers the island where you grew up.
Will it be a water world from now on?
Will you ever stand on dry land again?
Ever see palm and poinciana again?
Will the future be just the heat and salt
On skin and chapped, burnt lips and
Fierce starlight burning your cheeks
And squinting your eyes? You search
The horizon and wonder: what was
Noah thinking that first morning after
The biblical flood rose too high?
Not just the devastation of the world
He witnessed, but trusting the boat
He’d labored long to prepare? While
Holding his breath. Like you, he had
That first morning out. Then the roiling,
Fluctuating horizon looked no different
From the horizontal line you witness
Now. Count your blessings, double check
The list of of food and materials on board.
Remember Noah had it much worse.
His only compass, a sun still hidden
Deep inside the sea, and the horizon
That once he trusted as an eternal
Monument where he could disembark.
The Tree that Brings me Home
This old mahogany tree, rising
Above and canopying over our
Backyard’s bahia grass—spreading
Branches, stretching wide like a live
Oak, but without the Spanish moss.
Though deciduous, it sheds and
Re-robes itself so fast, it appears
To be an evergreen. Granddad
Planted it the day I was born, just
Hours after I was given a name,
Before a summer’s thunderstorm.
Then, no more than a yard tall,
No thicker than a pencil, those,
His words, as I often remember.
Once, they moved it for more sun,
Moved it again for a shed added
On; wanted to move it again
For an expanded Florida room,
But it rained so much that summer
Of ’63, the tree grew too fast, so they
Built a porch around the growing trunk.
Now, branches cantilever over our yard
And the nearby canal, as it reaches
80 feet tall and 60 wide. I nail another
Ladder’s step up on a sturdy limb.
I pull my way up to a high branch
On the furrowed but elegant bark,
And then I pause minutes to meditate
Before I descend back down to rest
In the hammock under the shady
Limbs. Below, the roots hold me
Securely in a place that keeps me
In comfort from the fierce tropical
Sun. I imagine the many rings
Inside the trunk, marking those
Circles of our overlapping lives,
As I share my afternoon and
Consciousness with my birth twin.