by Christopher Raley
I sit at the table as if to eat
but my food is inedible before me:
the island, the wooden building, the window.
How far must it be from the pier
across the water that hides its paths
to the bare mountain? Fog comes,
and it might be as their land itself, far unknown,
carved on our minds from traveled lips and Pearl S. Buck.
It might even be that on the Island too they suffered.
What time do you have? Time enough to ignore it?
Time enough for the freezing audience at finality
to hallow Jack Sparrow the Ventriloquist?
Time enough to listen to the straight backed man
playing steel drums and facing the bay buddha-like
while the cold lust of fog comes again to its bed?
Time to dread the credit card statement
and weigh it against one more slip
wrenched from a temperamental printer?
Time enough for the black man to pluck buds from ears
and urge the nearest innocent bystanding tourist couple
with shouts: “It’s for the benefit of Bob Marley”?
We laugh all the way to the hotel,
but the breeze cuts us and the city is a broken grid.
Is there time left to eat this building, this island?
Or must I settle for this window I cannot reach beyond?