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Small Island

Anna Mioduchowska
From:   In-Between Seasons. Rowan Books, 1998.


According to the inhabitants of the Trobriand Islands "a remarkable thing happens to the spirit immediately after its exodus from the body. ...the baloma (which is the main form of the dead man's spirit) goes to Tuma, a small island..."
      from Bronislaw Malinowski's Magic, Science and Religion


I hope my turn to leave comes in July
and there=s someone willing to launch the scuffed canoe
loon barking in alarm at the sudden shadow
cast over its territory, annoyed ducks
nattering

let it be at the moment
the lake's precisely balanced — the sun holding it
by one end the moon by the other, water thick, shiny
crepuscular cream insects slurp
with a terrible greed

for incense, juniper will do
sweetened with fermenting leaves, an aroma
that follows from the shore, lingers on the skin
like old memories, fades with each stroke
of the paddle

the island — a black pincushion
cormorant and heron nests up and down dried up spruce trees
reclining fledglings, sleek Buddhist monks
in calm contemplation of sticks they've plucked
from the floor, the wall

until the next fish is flown in
and then the jostling, the squawking, the island lifting
quivering, cries of triumph and self-pity such perfect
cacophony against the deepening
silence —

let it be that island
let it be an old spruce trunk, even a clump
of reeds nearby, I could do worse than spend eternity
in the company of birds



Anna Mioduchowska's works copyright © to the author.


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