Exile

EXILE

They were exiled
for half a century
from the island

the ocean became
a deep and treacherous
border cut into the land.

The punishment imposed
by Spanish officials
a consequence for insurrection
certain as the fine embroidery
on the priest’s frock ironed hot
and flat for mass.

Even so
some were driven back
by hunger or loneliness
to the green hills
and the damp forests
but always to leave
by nightfall
with dreams of home
fading like salt spray
against the boatsides.

When it was finally over
many did not return
for the passage of time
takes its toll
and heartbreak runs through
generations like
a thirst quenched by water
pulled from the bitter gourd.

The ones who did return
gathered stones and lime
from the shoreline
brought down wood from the hills
and built the homes
where we now live.

This was all more than one hundred eighty years ago
and tonight
look how the first-quarter moon
fills the town streets
with glowing light,
the sky filled with stars
and clouds and wind.

We are still named
for the tree
lodged into the hillsides
its broad leaves turning dark red when
the rainy season nears its end,
inside green teardrops
new leaves wait silently
to open.

 

 

Read more about the collection, Di Achichuk.

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