Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Island

I took the night train there,
never dreaming.
To cross the straits
my boxcar crept onto a barge—there was screeching,
several tremendous thuds,
then with a growl
we sailed.
I was already half-awake,
anxious for a volcano, neolithic shrines,
islands to explore
off the main island…
At my stop,
early morning’s tarnish
fell on a shuttered newspaper stand
and torn campaign posters.
A child playing near a livestock car
sang about a weapon
detonated in another nation,
another hemisphere.

From the station
and the song,
I walked up the mountain road
to a garden where grizzly men with camera phones
greeted me, sleep still
in the corners of their eyes,
bougainvillea around their tents.
I was to be eternalized
and therefore loved.
They waxed my nose
and powdered my nether regions.
After oatmeal and coffee,
I was Jupiter’s—
his bardash, his
Ganymede, ningle, ingle,
trug—bracing
against a Doric column.

I felt numb a night later as rosemary blew through the lava
      fields.

Credit


Copyright © 2015 by Greg Wrenn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“This speaker, seeking renewal, takes a journey from continent to island, train station to campsite. And yet it also feels as if he crosses over to some mythic, self-absorbed world where he seeks out violation, and the truth of his condition throbs: he is alone.”
Greg Wrenn

Author


Greg Wrenn

Greg Wrenn is the author of Centaur (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013). He teaches at Stanford University and lives in Oakland, California.

Date Published: 2015-05-13

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/island