Literary Imagination, Volume 20, Issue 1, March 2018, Pages 54–55.




That rasp—the ceiling fan?

Or rats? At night rats climb the palms,

the manager said. Don’t sleep

with the doors to the balcony open. Besides,


sea wind’s salt; everything metal

it rusts. She rapped the glass—

Paloma-proof! … The AC whooshes on.

In your mind’s eye Paloma’s heap,


twisted siding, splintered boards,

ragged sheetrock, glass-toothed muntins—fix

though you would that eye

on birds (blue sky, white loops of flight),


white baton tails

and narrow blades of black-tipped wings

and orange beaks (strain though you do

to train your ear on their reedy chirps),


beside the limestone bluff whose seams

they jet into and nest within—

that season’s rental

bulldozed off, the concrete slab


scraped clean … Or hold in view

(the AC cycling off, that rasp!),

the morning’s yellow-crowned night heron

toeing on yellow marsh-reed legs


the lip of the pool and piercingly

eying—there, it stabs, beaks up,

with that black beak which spears

the crabs that cloister themselves


in a salvage of shells

from the locals’ harvest of sea snails,

a gurgling throatful of water—

red hermits amassing at sundown


under the fronds where you, the two of you …

It was as though the sunset,

while it impassioned you and this other

snoring beside you, whose sleep is



hemorrhaged claws, a tide

that armored itself in spiral shells

for its incursion inland.