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Adrienne Pilon

Jamaica

To explore more of Adrienne Pilon’s work, click on the title Rain Comes to the Central Valley.
Her new PDF pamphlet is available now as a free offering from O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press.

A Tropical Coast Sunset by John Martin

Evening in Ocho Rios. Lavender creeps in the edges
o the sky. The bartender mixes a tropical cocktail,
colors layered in glass to mimic the sunset. My boyfriend
is urging me to drink as another vacation day winds down.
The drink looks nothing like the sunset, the lavender
makng a sad note. The disappearing sun
is sadder, still: the world alit, then gone dark
in an instant. A brief storm passed through today.
There’s no evidence that rain ever pounded
this shore, that lightning struck the ground
where resort guests now dance in the sand,
fiery torches making skeletons from their shadows.

I hadn’t understood how the heavy beat of reggae echoed
the heaviness of the tropical air. Wake up and live,
sings Bob, and I’d never before heard the sad
throb, the sorrow embedded in those lines.
Hadn’t known how hard it was to breathe
the thick air that gathered before a storm.
I couldn’t remember why we were in Jamaica.
My father had been dead some thirty days.
I hadn’t realized that his ghost would not be
in Jamaica, that it might have been too far
to travel after an already long journey.

In the day, while snorkeling, there were moments
of wonder, and fear. Under the surface of the water,
a nether space between breathing and death,
was a world filled with creatures whose names
were unknown to me, who swam around me in reds
and yellows and blues and oranges. Hundreds,
or thousands of translucent white jellies made a wall
I had to pass through to get to the other side
of more water. They stung me everywhere
but my eyes and mouth, those gaping holes.
From the narrowest of caves came a fearsome
eel who showed me his open mouth. I could not
distinguish the black maw of his jaw from the black
maw of the cave. I could not look away, could not stop
seeing that abyss, that endless dark, spiraling down.

 

About the writer:
Adrienne Pilon is a writer, teacher, and editor. Recent work appears in Thimble Lit, The Tiger Moth Review, The Linden Review and elsewhere. She lives in North Carolina and sometimes other places with her family.

Image: A Tropical Coast Sunset by John Martin (1789-1854). Watercolor, gouache, and brown ink over graphite with scratching out on moderately thick, slightly textured, beige wove paper. 6.1 x 9.3 inches. Between 1840 & 1850. Public domain.

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