They’ll set out
To the small uninhabited island
They’ll get there at noon
To last a week a few days
Gathering the pink leaves
Swimming catching fish sleeping
Beneath the palm trees

A night sky full of stars
They’ll dream of women
Or make love among themselves

They’ll return after
To the other shore
Loading and unloading the cargo boats
Placing the tin crates over the steep wharfs
Bringing a drink to the white man
Idling on the veranda of the one hotel
Or simply disappear as if forever
Deep in the back villages
Among the pigs and roosters
Their naked children and busy wives

So life will go on
   Between the two islands

Between the dream of return
And the dream of escape
It’s a lesson they’ll learn
And unlearn year after year
How to choose and not to choose

Between the inhabited island
Where the graves of their families
Gleam in dumb heaps decorated
With bits of stained glass or shells
And the other uninhabited island
Where no roots are sunk
No one’s ever born no one ever dies
One comes and goes as one pleases
The other island
That will always call to them
And never own them
The island that has no name
The island of the gods

This Issue

December 21, 1978