I’ve expressed my desert immersions in poetry, commentary, in The American West & Points South, and certainly in my Aaron McCaan novels. But I have also had more than one love affair with islands, some of which I have shared about Tuvalu and others in articles and poetry and in my book, The Time at Darwin’s Reef. I am hard at work on a new collection of poetry and related work called Language Tinder and have written a short narrative for it on one of my all-time favorite islands, exquisite and beautiful Tahiti. Here is a draft:
July 11, 1979
Eyes closed I envisioned what I had seen of the beach and interior in a drive around Pape’ete, Tahiti, earlier in the day. Now it was dark. I was on the outskirts of town, out of the car and standing barefoot on a stretch of damp sea grass. When I opened my eyes I could see the stars stretching down to the reef on the horizon. The surf was running its foamy fingers up and down the sand bars. Its moist and salty air wobbled around in my nose and ears, tempting me to join it. There is nothing like sea air on a warm night to inspire the soul. Lacing it with jungle perfume makes it all the more vivid and compelling. This whole island is a tropical garden. Dozens of flower species make sensory gold in the brain, an aroma anchored especially by the wild orchids that grow everywhere along the roadside here, dazzling with their colors in the daytime and ruling the atmosphere with odorifics every night. All of it was intoxicating, wrapping me up in a primordial humor, tugging at my humanity, pacing my heart with pure joy, embracing my whole being, the elixir and soul of my sensory-intellectual self. In this moment I was more aware of the nature of the world and my place in it than ever before. It couldn’t end. I laid on my back on the sand and drank deeply from the cocktail of life until dawn.