Besides walking at night
to listen for the churr and bark
of tree frogs in the palms,
the constant rush of trade winds,
besides the way sting rays
glided across their habitat
every time they saw me,
mistaking me for the naturalist
thinking I had come to feed them,

besides the afternoon I got too drunk
at the beach and floated for hours
in the rollers, letting the ocean
fill my ears while I waited for you
to be done talking to that girl
whom I hated because
she was thin and lovely
despite having three children,

my favourite part of the island
was the afternoon the storm came in
and we went shopping in the straw market,
the streets so flooded that the rats
ran for shelter into the janky t-shirt shop
where we fingered baubles
and sampled rum cake –
piña colada, key lime, chocolate.

The shop girls screamed
and jumped on chairs,
but I took an umbrella
from the rack and chased the rats
back into the streets
to swim further down the sudden river
and look for refuge in another shop
without an angry American
who’d had her fill of women
screaming on chairs.


Photo used under CC.