An Encounter with the King of St. Thomas

Standing water winds along the edge of the road like a shadow. It’s gray and fetid, but the plants don’t seem to mind. Roots of wayward shrubs show their stubby ankles above the glassy film. Insects cause a momentary vibration as they land for a drink.

Up ahead, a bare tree reaches a gnarled hand toward the sky – a plea for rain, perhaps. Or a gesture of reverence for the momentary train of clouds passing by.

A sudden cackling stops me in my tracks. I try to locate the sound.

There, up the green-spotted hillside, his black tail feathers stand erect and sprawled out like a palm frond. He bobs his head, flashing a red crown, and paws the hot dirt menacingly. You are the true king, I say out loud. All hail the rooster of St. Thomas. I feign a bow.

He crows again as I mosey down the road grinning. “Good afternoon,” I say, as is customary, to passersby. They respond in kind except good comes out sounding like guhd. It strikes me as a much prettier word pronounced that way.

The air is thick with salt and steam, as the midday sun bakes everything in her path, including my shoulders. I can’t wait to cool off.

-vignette from a walk to Coki Beach, east-end St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Dusk

Pastel light in hues of marigold and lupine lull my eyelids, seducing slumber.

With a shiver at the nape of my neck, I feel dusk tiptoe in, and I welcome her. She is a wrinkle-eyed crone wearing a hoop skirt full of pockets. Pick one, she dares me. I close my eyes, slip my hand into teal corduroy and touch something oblong and worn on the surface, like driftwood (*). I can hear the tongue of the ocean shushing against the sand and frothing into peaks and crests, valleys and planes. The smell of salt spray drifts in through the open window.

I’d like her to stay a while and paint the sky inky-indigo blue but it’s a fading slate instead. I watch as dusk swirls her skirt and out of the folds soar stars and planets. Black velvet lands gently atop trees and hills, rooftops and sidewalks; a backdrop for jewels.

Before long, she kisses my forehead and just like that, she is gone.

*a note about the symbolism of Driftwood from Chris Maser:

“Driftwood” is a vision from beyond language, beyond any possible embodiment of meaning in a word. It symbolizes the Eternal relationship between wood and water, between forest and sea, between life and death. It symbolizes the ever-present moment, which is at once the past, present, and future–here, now, in this nanosecond contained. “Driftwood” is but an infinitesimal glimpse into the wonder and mystery infused in the human psyche from the outer reaches of Infinite Creation that we call “the Universe.”

     

Five Days

I.

I pace the corners of my mind like an alchemist studying every ingredient to find the perfect recipe for transformation.

I read this quote:

Honey and wildfire are both the color gold. 

and it feels like a clue to something burning inside.

Victoria Erickson

II.

Perhaps a litmus test for the depth of a friendship should be whether or not they encourage you to nap when you want to.

Her and I, we go way back.

 

III.

The sea gulls fly past the window, calling shrilly like an alarm sounding action. I envy their freedom.

 

IV.

The sinking sun sharpens the branches of a cedar tree. They are sewing needles, poised to stitch a tapestry, as river-scented wind ripples across the fading sky. 

 

V.

I wake up in a house of light. A capsule of a moment, imagination run wild.

Adventure is calling me.