Sample Poems by Pamela
Adrift on the Sea of Our
Stacks of crockery and winter clothes,
furniture in piles-
for days I've packed belongings
like vessels for the crypt. Box by
our once-familiar rooms resume
the look of bare beginning, empty
of former points of view. Stored,
the colored stones I gathered as a
primer of my eye, first satisfaction
of the need to know and name.
I have their lessons
all by heart.
Stored: the legacy of silver spoons
whose civil rituals arranged my
like a table set for guests, and with them,
shells I collected on Mombassa's shores,
hatless bride, reaching for perfection
into mirrors of a tidal pool.
Departing toward a
we're peeling down to life-boat goods-
plain clothes, essential books-
traveling light to a seldom-storied isle
where things retain a fine necessity,
move through rooms with open walls.
Along those shores, I'll gather other shells,
and imperfect ones,
worn to the heart by the tide.
Carry-a-coo, a sound
like birdsong, ring-necked doves
sidling to sleep
in a tamarind tree.
This Isle of Reefs winks eight-by-three
miles small in a peacock sea,
from plagues of ants on Guadeloupe first fled
with their thousand slaves.
at manumission, unprofitable as a cracked jug,
suffering two seasons-sodden
Cromanti, Ibo, and Chamba survived and thrive.
Among their seven
thousand descendants, we'll raise
to ten the number of white planter/volunteers.
in a squall, the pilot takes two tries
to land on a runway grazed by goats and cows.
trickles out to a jungle trail, climbing
vines insinuate through slatted blinds. Rain
muddy waves beneath the doors,
gurgles from the roof into a basement cistern,
"catchment for the year," purified for us
by some eyeless fish eating larvae in the dark.
to unpack, we eat a meal of crackers
and sardines. The cat mewls in unfamiliar
Kate hums comfort to her dolls as the sun sinks
into sea. No twilight softens the
When we turn on the lamp,
every curious bug in the bush
shoulders in to
No Painter's Brush
spend your days running island clinics,
attending the sick and dying, corralling kids
cots to test for sickle cell, trekking
to make calls in mud shanties cocked like top hats
volcanic hills-yes, I cope at home,
unpacking our belongings and entertaining Kate,
with mahogany roaches fastened like old brooches
at the neck of my
nightgown, long-horned hoppers
gripping the bed clothes like a guilty conscience,
me on the kitchen wall, tarantulas poised
tentative as a lover's hand. Striped black and
scarlet-pated caterpillars, lascivious and plump
as grandma's kielbasas, chew the
Old Scorpio, like an aroused Lothario, sashays
smugly up the veranda
and into my sleepless nights.
In a place so thickly strewn with sneaky creatures,
it's hard to
pretend Platonic thoughts. One orchid sings
its satisfactions; many multiply delight. These insects,
grown strange with camouflage and geared for eating,
startle, singly. In numbers, they
Leaf by leaf, I've watched them cart whole trees away-
caravans departing with
the ravishments of Rome-
eating till my aesthetic's pared down to an eyeball
plate. No painter's brush saves jungle blooms
from their undoing. Here, Dear, wrack's the way of
What the Other Is
is what we
bend in fear
to a clouded mirror
by which we
to know ourselves: other
is a broken lock, cock-eyed
beer bottles empty on the
counters dusted with flour,
ghostly fingerprints whiting
every drawer, all our
beneath thin sheets.
Beneath the sheets,
with the teeming weight
of all she might imagine,
all that really could
Let me not imagine.