Then – an island was a prize, rewarding those who risked
The crashing waves, the reef, the rocks and rips.
Gasping in green water, he jerked his hips,
Caught a wave’s lift, crested a droplet rainbow,
Tumbled in foam. Then he was floating,
Transformed, languorous, in a mirror lagoon.
He waded ashore, startling fish and crabs.
He wobbled on sloping sand, under stretching palms.
He turned, squinted into the setting sun and saw
Pieces of smashed wood, drifting, blown.
He laughed. He was here, and had to stay awhile.
He turned inland to walk into the unknown.
Now – we look down on islands from stiff planes
Laden with soft toy turtles, snorkels, reef shoes.
We arrive at night and could be anywhere.
But after we leave the airport’s concrete and lights,
We look up to unexplored islands, stars so bright,
The same ones that pulled the first canoes
And guided the boatloads that followed.
The frangipani air is soft as talcum.
We hear a guitar and the music washes away
All thoughts of where we came from
Or when that was, if it ever was.