by René Ostberg
I want this to be easy.
Like blink and we’re there easy
think and it’s done easy
wish and you’re here.
I don’t want the involvement of any effort on my part.
Don’t bring me to the luminescence
bring the luminescence to me.
None of this waiting for a new moon
banging around in the blackness with strangers
keeping kayaks in a line
swinging paddles through the Puerto Rican deep.
They tell us:
put your hands overboard
wiggle your fingers in the water
watch the little creatures crackle to light.
Little dinos, little flagellates.
I imagine a tiny long-tailed brontosaur,
a billion of ‘em, biting my rude huge hand
defanged piranha zygotes
lost in the Caribbean. It’s a long way
from the Amazon, a long way from the Mississippi
a long way from the Mesozoic.
I imagine a shiny long-tailed comet,
just one of ‘em, igniting my rude huge planet
smashing the dinos to bits
soldering speck-sized lights into their dino DNA.
The dinosaurs never died away.
They didn’t evolve into rhinos or birds.
They colonized the Caribbean
turned the Puerto Rican tides into a star show
you can swim in.
I want this to be easy so
I do what I’m told:
put my hand overboard
wiggle my fingers in the water
watch the little creatures
the little comet bedazzled buggers
crackle and roar to light.
I’ve come a long way from the Mississippi
There are no locks. There are only high sand hills
which the woman in the house would not feel safe
without. Whenever the sun shines she thinks it’s a
gift from the gods of defense. The sun turns the sand
to coals the hills to flames and no one can get over
and in without a struggle.
The house has hardly a roof. The floors are flooded
with sand so the woman hears the wind whenever
she steps. She sees trees in the dunes and the horizon
through the trees and the lake below the horizon. She
looks for prowlers on the beach and watches them
drown climbing the dunes.
One day she sees the lake and the horizon congeal
to clouds she thinks or jelled waves. Something
is coming. The clouds are beasts cows like bulls running
to land and women like warriors with white skin wild
hair whale eyes and dark stiff dresses. The horizon
churns brown. The woman in the house runs but
has no chance. The sand on the floor is not meant
for more than a pacing.
A girl in a green dress appears and dances into
a side door. The woman spins her around and steers
her out. This is no time for turning mother. The cows
have jumped the hills. The women ride on their
backs. They surround the house and call the woman
across the sand. They list her looks her eyes like
theirs her skin the same her hair an echo of
the speed that they can run. But her arms move
different waving loose like the women’s
hair and the cows’ tails.
The woman in the house gathers the men around
her the ones she never trusted the ones the hills
kept out before needing their protection. They run
to a room that rises higher than the dunes and higher
than the women astride their beasts. There are open
windows in the room. The men lean out and laugh
and push the woman ahead.
The women on the beasts beat their chests and cry
a word that the woman hears but doesn’t know. She
feels her face sharpening her body rising with a rush
of air and she starts to circle the sand hills. She chases
the men down the dunes to the lake to the beach
ravaged by the cows to the dung pits made by the beasts
while the women take the house and call the woman back
to come land on their hands.
The women stay on. The men never return. The woman
circles the land that used to be her home. She circles
most at sunset while the women watch her fly and
list her looks every time she turns to home. The beasts
prowl the dunes and watch the horizon. They have no
memory of the opposite side they only see
a sun burning the lake.
A smell is not a soul. If only it were
I would have made you my wife
made your scent my mate for life.
We kissed against the wet stone walls
me leaning into you you leaning into stone
your back suffering the jabs of rock
making dents vents for your coconut scent.
Put your arms around me the scent whispered.
Trust me it told me ghosting itself around me
haloing our embrace. But your mouth
your soft speaking mouth your clutching
tongue tasted of need.
It clashed with the cigarettes I’d swallowed
soured the beer I drowned every night.
…And I never could stand the smack
of a woman’s desperation.
When we made it to a bed made our bodies bare
I melted above your smell became a ghost
of a man haloed by your arms your legs
your lips. By the time we were done
your scent made my body soft
my pores opened wide as the wounds
in your back. My drowned man’s
aroma drunk man’s
corona beer sweat
I don’t blame you for being gone before morning.
You never could stand the smack
of a man’s desperation. You left
behind what I was after anyway. Your mouth
your soft clutching tongue your soul
a halo around me.
René Ostberg is a native Chicagoan who still resides in Illinois. She writes a blog with a travel theme called ‘Writing and Wayfaring’. Her writing and photography have been featured at Drunk Monkeys, Literary Orphans, Booma: The Bookmapping Project, Eunoia Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, We Said Go Travel, Rockwell’s Camera Phone, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog, among other places. You can read more of her work at reneostberg.wordpress.com.