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Portrait in Salt and Dusky Carmine

As in childhood, the gentility of verandas

and gardens, of tea and its trappings, made me

anxious. But it took very little time for someone

to disappear from that world. The cane fields

that separate civility from the rough shoreline

allow anyone, upper crust or field hand, to disappear.

Down one of many dirt rows, the line cut as straight

as the cane planted on either side, one rushes

from the cultured world to an untouched one.

Out of the cane fields, out from their wind-rippled leaves

shepherding you onward, one finds the sand

and sea awaiting as if discarded by a retired god.

The setting sun’s red and orange fingers tried,

unsuccessfully, to reconfigure the seven shades

the water’s varying depths reflected, but all

that changed was the sea foam once white now pink.

The English painter, who visited here once, wrote

that the daily gaudiness of this sight made one

long for the nuance of dimming light at dusk

as it smudged its charcoal over a Hampshire field.

All I can say is it takes a certain temperament

to prefer a sunset in Hampshire to a sunset

in the Caribbean. I do not have such a temperament.

I prefer a scene that requires oils instead of charcoal.

The shore empty, the sun no longer visible,

the water’s colors finally succumbed and darkened

to night, the same as that settling over us from above.

Not the sunset, but the time following sunset:

the day’s Technicolor displays erased. Alone

on the soft sand, the surf mumbled the old language.

Like my great-great-grandmother who visits me

in dreams, it said: Salt or no salt, trust no one.

It is difficult for one like me to disregard the sea

and the cane fields. I am perfectly aware this place

is no longer my home, but the sea says Truth is truth,

and the cane field says Like the machete, you belong to me.

from PrometeoFind more by C. Dale Young at the library

Copyright © 2021 C. Dale Young
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Published in C. Dale Young Poems

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