A return to the Islands, poetry by Karen Petersen

Descending through primal silence
on metal, featherless wings
our silver bird finds Earth’s anchor
through the white cantons of cumuli,
and I arrive to smell the charged air,
changed  from sunshine’s clarity, water’s clarity,
azure and brilliant in the Caribbean sky.

In this paradise of heat and green camouflage
my heart lightens, slows, and relaxes.
The room is small, broad shutters open
to the sound of cannonading surf and bird song,
bed linens white as the nearby sand.
The streets are wide and white, there are no sidewalks,
the men’s dark beauty moving like flares in the night.

This sunny place is theirs, I do not belong.
Yet as a visitor I take a fragrant piece with me
like a benediction over my disassembled life:
my hypertension, my fatty liver, my unraveling brain.
The sun, with its gentle diffusion of light on a lemon wall,
does not feel doomed and mortal here.
It is steady and seasonless, uncontaminated by decay.

Harsh reflections on my aging life and its humiliations
I sit beneath the ragged palms and pastel balconies,
whose shuttered boudoirs were once open
so long ago to wild desire, now firmly closed.
The African flowers in the weeds between the rocks
carry the smell of history; they are non-native flowers,
gently avenging reminders of these souls in exile.

My past is just blue air now, fading pink petals,
like the falling pods of the flamboyant tree.
My memories drift in this drowsy heat,
lifted by the rhythm of the high hawks, circling.
I’m waiting for a visitation from my stoic angels,
those silent white egrets hiding behind the decrepit sea walls.
At long last, I can hear the dragonfly’s immortal drone.

KAREN PETERSEN has travelled the world extensively, publishing both nationally and internationally in a variety of publications.  Her poems have been translated into Persian and Spanish, and she has been nominated for numerous prizes, most recently making the longlist for The Bridport Prize (UK) with this poem. More information can be found here:  https://karenpetersenwriter.com

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