By Chelsea Rathburn
Featured art: Elephant Combat by an unidentified artist
The island seemed in permanent full bloom.
Through hairpin curves, our driver pointed—mango,
lime, poinciana—this one hanging low,
that one as bright as flames. And in our room,
a riot of blossoms. Across the bed, hibiscus
letters spelled out Congratulations. Welcome.
Bottles of champagne, pitchers of rum
punch. Why would we bring up poverty or loss
or the scorpions we pounded with a shoe
by the bathtub drain, small and densely black?
We ate golden apples, and had a view
of the mountain from the shower. On the third day,
darkness dropped from my towel. I jumped back:
a welcome-flower no one had swept away.
Chelsea Rathburn is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Still Life with Mother and Knife (LSU Press, 2019). She lives in Macon, Ga., where she teaches creative writing at Mercer University. In 2019, she was named poet laureate of Georgia.
Originally published in NOR 9 Spring 2011