On the island where I was a child
nearly everyone was retired, their fortunes
already made. Death was around them
the way water was around our streets.
They taught me how to go fishing
without catching fish; the tide’s breath
was marked in notebooks they kept
beneath their pillows. One old lady
fed me chocolates from a tin
until my teeth were stained by greed.
The old do things slowly so I grew used
to grocery store lines
that did not move, cars that stopped
in the middle of the road. One man spent
a whole day helping me bury a squirrel;
we wrote odes and dirges
to the way it once hurried and planned.