Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
The Phoenix Issue, No. 16, Winter 2008


Mapping Venezuela for Oil from the Air

for my Father

There are photos of clouds glancing
off the wings of his biplane, ones of birds
in flight rightside up or upside down in a
tangled gyration of wind and wing.  
And when he stood in the jungle
there— a young man next to his buddy,
a monkey resting in the hook of his arm,
smiling broadly into the camera, you could see
pure joy.  When he said the name,
Venezuela, the music in it rolled
off  his tongue in a flourish like tambourines
in the Port of Spain, pumas leaping mid-air,
cloud forests, mimosa leaves—
wild horses wild rivers, night moths swirling
madly into each other in reckless flight. 
A life time later, I knew a man from Valencia.  
His skin was ink and velvet and
he thrilled me with his beauty, his voice.
The way he looked at the sea.
Phosphoresence scattering blue light  
in the dark Caribbean.  And he held me
one night in the lock of his arms as we danced
on the wooden deck of his fishing vessel,
a few lights from Saint Kitts blinking
in the distance. All these years later,
I still can feel his breath on my neck
as we glided together under the folded sails of
that night sky. The salt air heavy around us 
then when the heart was an uncharted
archipelago of delight, still
an open vessel in a welcoming sea.