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For the Sake of Tiger Lilies

In a clearing, in a swell of grasses
thick with greens and yellows, he cannot forget
the ocean miles below the jagged rift,

the afternoons not laden with orchids,
afternoons not brilliant, overwhelmed
by the croton leaves inflamed with sunlight.

The old man glares at me, his voice tremulous:
the day is underneath the day—
there is too much freewheeling,

too much banter for the sake of posture,
for the sake of tiger lilies
drooping their speckled orange heads.

"The ocean is always waiting, boy.
An islander is never far from it,
always the sound, always the salt licking the air."