Postcards

I’m thinking about you. What else can I say? 

The palm trees on the reverse 

are a delusion; so is the pink sand. 

What we have are the usual 

fractured coke bottles and the smell 

of backed-up drains, too sweet, 

like a mango on the verge 

of rot, which we have also. 

The air clear sweat, mosquitoes 

& their tracks; birds & elusive. 

Time comes in waves here, a sickness, one 

day after the other rolling on; 

I move up, it’s called 

awake, then down into the uneasy 

nights but never 

forward. The roosters crow 

for hours before dawn, and a prodded 

child howls & howls 

on the pocked road to school. 

In the hold with the baggage 

there are two prisoners, 

their heads shaved by bayonets, & ten crates 

of queasy chicks. Each spring 

there’s race of cripples, from the store 

to the church. This is the sort of junk 

I carry with me; and a clipping 

about democracy from the local paper. 

Outside the window 

they’re building the damn hotel, 

nail by nail, someone’s 

crumbling dream. A universe that includes you 

can’t be all bad, but 

does it? At this distance 

you’re a mirage, a glossy image 

fixed in the posture 

of the last time I saw you. 

Turn you over, there’s the place 

for the address. Wish you were 

here. Love comes 

in waves like the ocean, a sickness which goes on 

& on, a hollow cave 

in the head, filling & pounding, a kicked ear.
Margaret Atwood