Anne Marie Ward
Issue NO. 2 • ARE WE THERE YET?
In this piece, I reflect on mental images of beautiful paradise that clash with the painful memories to which they are tied, culturally and personally. It’s a poem where I reflect on my past relationships and loves, and think about the places I’ve been and want to go, and what they all mean when they’ve been put together. The places you’ll go to are in the context of the places you’ve been. Thanks for reading .
He says we can never go to Bermuda, never make it ours. I ruined the whole place, seeped jealous poison deep into the earth that cannot be clawed out. Marred by a different man I had known there. A lonely island in the Atlantic, off the coast in the middle of nothing. Far from the Caribbean, unlike what some might think. “It’s only an hour flight from JFK,” ads coo, flashing on billboards above the turnpike: alluding to lush Eden a mere stone’s throw from smoggy commuter hell. To an island with no native people. Discovered by the Spanish and named after one of their own. Bermudez. Then taken in the name of the British Queen, which it stays to this day. Also called the devil’s isle. The isle that sunk ships and marooned men with craggy coral reefs in its clear shallows, all around. Isolated paradise: bleached sand and green palms and no people to cross its cerulean lagoon. Until it was captured and cajoled and filled with whitewashed limestone roofs and carnation-pink resort cabins and syrupy blue curacao cocktails, complimentary. With bartenders in frond huts who are tired of making piña coladas, again. With neon bikini bottoms and white linens and designer boutiques in the downtown. And prior, filled with sweet sugar cane and European money and human misery. Hot wounds in broken flesh. Before we decided to forget about that. Rebrand. Pump more Western money. And it became a place for romantic trysts. Illicitly-dumped lust in Horseshoe Bay. Have things really changed? I suggest that we can make Bermuda ours, reclaim our love. And he says no, maybe we can go to the Bahamas, but I ruined Bermuda forever. But he still loves me, despite past infidelity. Despite airline miles. In spite of my time in Bermuda. If I go into the crystal water, and look back on the island, it will seem like a fever dream. Hips just above the surface of the water, fingertips submerged, torso in the brilliant light. Like it were a mirage, a gem, just floating there: you could swim through and under it, press yourself against the bottom like you could an anchored dock, and listen to its thoughts. The island was lonely, but it also never really wanted us there. That’s why it would run its jagged teeth against the bottom of our ships. Drive us mad with its tree-frog incantations and salt-water libations. It saw what we could do to each other, and figured it was better to remain forgotten. Better to be safe than sorry, it whispers. I should know. I should know, too.