FIVE POETS ON AN ISLAND
A plane goes down in the middle
of the ocean, out where there are
islands yet to be sold or air-conditioned,
and on the plane there are five poets,
each of them surviving (as poets will do)
dog-paddling to the nearest shore
or darting through the waves like sailfish,
graceful even in death’s shadow.
The island is white with yellow palms,
pink beach crabs floating over kelp beds,
lime-green vines woven around all of it.
One poet starts weeping and says
the thing he will miss most is
turning doorknobs, opening doors,
he will miss moving through things;
the others decide silently he will die first.
Another, the oldest, says he will miss
his cigarettes, which did not survive
the crash, and he’ll miss his wife’s garden—
not his garden, you see, his wife’s,
because he was born an ambitious man—
and his wife tended such fragile flowers,
camellias and jasmine and fuschias.
The poet wringing out his shirt
in the shade of a rock cave says
they should definitely elect a leader,
he needs structure in order to work;
the lady poet says she decided
just when the plane dipped its nose
she would make the best leader,
should they all end up marooned.
The poet whose clothes were torn away
by the ocean says something in a language
no one understands so they shrug at him,
tell him with their hands to go make
a fire for their dinner, even though
each of them is burning up, even though
the animals crouched behind them
agreed years ago not to be hunted.