(reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin)
in memory of John Stephen Reece
Down here, the sun clings to the earth and there is no darkness.
All night, Dolores labors between the sea grapes and the empty park.
The teenage boy locks his door and combs the obscene magazine.
The Cape Sable seaside sparrows’ population
dropped 25 percent. Females are
Gay waiters examine their haircuts in the mirrors.
Juan escapes from our prison; he duct-tapes Playboy magazines to his
Egas Moniz wins the Nobel Prize in 1949 for pioneering lobotomies.
The hairdresser measures his delicate architecture.
Dolores teases her blond hair a foot in the air, her hair the one perfection
Consider the teenage boy again. His locked room is a diorama of loneliness.
Weather. Weather. How’s the weather?
Juan sinks into the swamp thick with processed excrement.
The men in the gym slow down their repetitions, their
biceps grow; they are silent
All this beauty. Butterflies at the ankles. Birds, birds.
Elizabeth Bishop was five when her mother went mad.
The men on death row are gathering in their silence, not unlike the
The black prison guards shoot bullets into the dark and swear at Juan.
Tonight the gym fills with strong male groans.
I keep vigil by the light of my 6o-watt bulb.
Long ago my cousin was murdered, drowned in a river in St. Augustine.
In the summer, there is heat, silence and no people. This is the weather
When Elizabeth Bishop lived in Key West the sea breeze brushed her with
Even at Christmas, hornets hiss in the kiss of the hibiscus.
I hear Juan drown in the night, his mouth stuffed with rain.
When I come out at last from the dark I am committed.
At dawn the pelican spears the sea spastically.
Bethesda-by-the-Sea cools with the gossip of the dead.
Florida is a frontier built by escapees.
Philomela held her cut tongue in her hand like a ticket.
In Lantana, at night, the 1950s pink tubercular sanatorium glows with
When I came to this place I had nothing of the past, no photo albums,
That night my cousin must have been scared, surrounded by the muscles
I press on the keys of the typewriter attempting to record all those
The Haitian ladies throw back their regal heads and
move down the sidewalks slow
Alligators swallow the summer light. The thick grass eats the sidewalk.
Robert Fitzroy, the father of weather forecasting, slit his throat with
In a room, in an institution, I was. Behind me, a window with rain.
Lantana, where I live, is home to the National
One year I lived in a Moorish hacienda, built in 1924. The walls were
two feet thick.
In the bluish purple bruise of dawn, Dolores watches weather on TV channeled
Waves open and close like doors between these islands called keys.
At night I hear the electric chair whir.
In the store there was a man who was more beautiful than his wife.
Easter in Palm Beach and at the Everglades Club the ladies sit before
When the 1928 hurricane came it had no name.
It was dark and my cousin was alone. They dragged him to the river.
In church we hear the jungle growing to meet the sea.
Florida has no memory besides the monarch butterflies who remember everything.
When the last day of summer comes, the locals walk home wistful, discounted.