There was a hideaway
made of cement and bamboo.
There was a clean cloth,
a bag of betel nut, a bottle of yeast
and sugar-water four-hours old.
There was a flashlight covered
and dimming. There were shadows
on the walls broken and rippled
to pieces. There was a place
where you made me close
for the first time and bent my arm
to the point of breaking
like I wanted, like I made you do
for the honor of my father’s village.
You undid your hair
to cover my chest. I remember
a lit butt pressed to my wrist,
fishbones threaded through my fingers.
There were names we made
for our low tide souls.
I wanted to finish you.
I wanted to move and turn you
from your quiet language,
but you held your breath.
You wanted to be stronger
and last. There was a time
when men knew how to die
in this village, when to jump
from the ridge with their jaws set,
their faces carved
like canoes that came here
when the land was just rocks
and sun. There was smoke
and there was blood.
There was the heat coming
above the reef at dawn.
It was like a plumeria you said,
a real blossom swelling, a spot
of white rising in the center,
spreading and taking hold.  end