Sept/Oct 1999 Poetry

The Thought of Islands

by Robert James Berry


The Thought of Islands

The despairing song of waves
The echoing thought of islands

Brings me where dusty winds whirl like dervishes,
Where Allah commands Thou Shalt Nots
From sun-stricken minarets.

The women in purdah I know,
Dry as Old Testament verses,

The idle, burned street vendors
Who keep faith with only their flied produce,

and the foundered ships off Quay Street,
Like desecrated carcasses in the stinking mud
Bitten by sand flies and tides.

When God has swept the furnace of this sky
and his sun hemorrhages over the sea,
Only then the betel palms shall sway slowly

And the final remains of a dead empire
Pedal its trishaw down Beach Street,
Waving generous good-byes.

Tonight an unlikely rainbow has settled over home.


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