Culebra / Carol Szamatowicz

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Burning up in sun and wind
I cook quick and easy
writing in the evening
palms ride the breeze beyond Culebrita
Frankito favors Oso Major in the night sky
Eric the Southern Cross
I find the isolated snorkel spot
to face down barracuda, gata, Tiburon y pajaro
comic interlude with a grinning grouper
young kingfisher asleep in folded feathers
tijerita, the scissortailed flycatcher, whistles la cucaracha
night heron scopes out the scene
sipping from puddles under the mahaguia tree
Chinches overtake the sweetest man on the beach
blistering heat blankets the downside of the grasses
Aldo climbs a tree between innings
his calloused feet are like hands
thorny acacia and Hurricane Hugo have chased the farmers out
Hugo took down grapefruit, avocado, lemon, lime, panepen and canepas
what’s left is grama and acacia
spoiling baseball
sand slows to a whisper
shiny seed casings perch in shaded pods
Caracoles carbuncle the tiburones like billboards
noodle light in thin roofless quality above me
peppered with cinders
hike up your gaiters a notch
Take me home gumbo airplane
mangoes underwing
neighbors don’t eat them
too lush on the tongue
Leda and I bridge our differences
with dulce de leche
she and Henry speak like parakeets
Henry refuses to work with words or numbers
he used to tell stories
now he listens
he can’t get his boat out of drydock
17 miles off on another island
he has no words so he can’t make plans
Do I need field glasses for the hike?
I commit to the mountain passes
Eric has walked through there before
do I have any faith left in people things or time?
now Eric’s up on a wildflower slope
how can we manage the visits?I’ll be up in the Pyrenees on Sunday
flying north from Madrid
start walking the Camino de San Campostela
sleep in my bivvy and pad

Culebra, P.R.


for Porter
This happened when I was here
the concrete under me rippled
earth traveled down then up
people flapped their hands
one vomited omelette and coke
preempting the faux feeling of home
the current quit the fisherman
he brought in his motor and line
spewing fumes
coral citation directed his speed
Pick a border and go to it
I move galones de piedra closer to the dock
the port swells with sewage
the frogs are mechanical
& here come the mosquitos
I bake, swim, marinate
la brisa, las nubes
mimosa, star anise, cocoa butter
TV and sugar reflux
The sun’s shadow crossed Mosquito Bay
scrim of nimbus within cumulus
in a fixed but temporary state
letters written lotions lined up
time on view settles down
the cumulus change from pink
to white to gray
the nimbus are steel blue
the sky caked pink tips
Culebra, P.R.
Dec. 2010

Carol Szamatowicz was born in a large brood, then left them at age fifteen. She has been a traveler ever since. She teaches four- and five-year-olds, which keeps her both philosophical and immediate. The mother of a young woman, she tries to see the world from the perspective of a young adult. Her writing is charged with the largeness of being connected to a clan, but the anger of being estranged from them: the view of near and far simultaneously.
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