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Canary Islands

by Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

In this land of
aquamarine and
violet seas
despite my desire
to see just the edge
of this blue
rimmed world
your ghost appears
your  squat frame
round shoulders
fleshy arms
I taste your slightly
metallic breath
smell the musk
of your flesh
And your death
comes back
in faint gasps
like a baby
in the night
And I know
I didn't ease
your last stirring
the child in me
wanted you back
even as your
body asked  and
I couldn't let go
Instead in your
last mad ramblings
I pretended you
were a wounded
creature an animal
drowning in death
Now in this tropical
world of date
palms fruity drinks
and red hibiscus
I walk the beach
and gather stones
pocked volcanic earth
as if I could breathe life
into a husk of flame.

Dr. Jan Zlotnik Schmidt is a Professor of English at SUNY New Paltz where she teaches composition, creative writing, Holocaust literature, American and Women's literature, poetry, and creative nonfiction classes. She has been published in many journals including Kansas Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Home Planet News, Phoebe, The Cream City Review, and Art Times. Two volumes of her poetry have been published by the Edwin Mellen Press: We Speak in Tongues (1991) and She had this Memory (2000).