HART CRANE IN THE ISLANDS
He kept a rum bottle on the mahogany desk. All day, the rhythm, like calibrated pistons pumping, as the Victrola blasted Ravel’s Bolero, while the white curtains rippled from the window facing a plantain grove. In his reveries, the salt of a sailor still stung his lips, as his tongue licked for that taste, the dark phallus in a rocking hammock, tears, and teeth; while composing, the rigging of metaphors pulled palms and flotillas, the parlors of Ohio, and the smoke and lachrymae of the Americas into his blue estuary.
Mornings spent on the sun dazzled shore. Late afternoons peeling mangos in an esplanade beneath the green shade of trees; and then, slowly, the colors of the aquatic dusk. There was a lover, a cane-cutter tart with liquor and sweat, and bonfires on the sands. At night, he would correct sheaves containing Voyages and The Bridge, then sleep like a Faust cleansed of all knowledge-lust, shadows of birds passing across his face with the softness a boy feels as he sobs against his mother’s apron. And for the first time his body felt as if it was weightless, as the sea opened her dark drapes, revealing her bones.
—from Rattle #22, Winter 2004