Hurricane - Part II
By Charles Bane, Jr.
On a road far above sand and water of Navaho stone, the car sputtered and came to a halt. Collier's father burst into rage. The driver shrank before the fury, and like the boy, climbed balefully from the car. Nearby there was an open space and what passed for a village. Collier walked a few steps forward and looked about, at chickens pecking in the dirt for grains of corn and kettles of asopao simmering over burning wood. Nothing in his make up was atuned to the lives of the poor and he stiffened, as though he were readying for inspection. It was taken as a good sign by the men who peered at him, though they were interrupted listening to the song that had met the boy's ears. It was a song of hurricanes, and of paddles far away on the Orinoco that began a journey now lost to record. The song had many Taino words. Collier's father approached and still furious, muttered that he would wait at the main pass and find a passing car. He touched his son's shoulder.
Far off, in the Atlantic, a fierce storm gathered its army. Collier's father stood impatiently in the open mountain road, unaware of the hurricane Like him, the storm was a father also, and yearned to return, from Africa, soil that belonged to the village and the mounds of they who had been forced to leave the continent and settle on an island in the Caribbean. This was only just, and the gale gathered up orange dust to rain upon their sleep who had cut the sugar cane. When the villagers sang of him, the storm listened and ran to them across the open sea. It knew the village where Collier looked about at thatched huts and heaps of plantain, and longed deeply to strum its palms and cool the brow of its fires. The storm grew mad with grief.
Collier took off his coat and folded it neatly on the ground below a tree. The wind was picking up, he felt a twinge of alarm. He wished to be in the comfort of his bed and to smell the now -- wished for odor of flowers in the hotel lobby. There was a last resignation inside him, a last, flickering desire to find an oil lamp of hope. He wished, as his eyes closed, to know the sensation of good health. He conjured images behind his lids of footraces through the park and soirees where pretty girls were in abundance. He saw himself going to work with a briefcase, and lifting his children in the air in his spacious home as his wife, kneeling on the floor beside newspapers and pots of tea, looked on. Collier's dream of this wafted overhead. It was not unlike the dreams of the villagers, of black beans and rice in plenty, or even of cafe con leche, sipped on a landowners's verandah.
The boy's father returned to the village and wiped his brow. Surely, the father thought mistakenly, the hotel would phone the police or at the least, send a car and driver when he and his son did not appear at dinner. He sat down beside his son. "Collier," he said quietly, "we shall camp here tonight, and do our best."
The driver appeared, and apologizing to father and son, sought out elders. Words were shared, and all looked at the rich Americans who were now the guests of the village and must be treated, all decided, with a courtesy that befit their home. A villager brought Collier a New Testament in Spanish, left by a missionary priest. The boy must not think they were unlettered.
Charles Bane Jr. is an American Poet. Curbside Splendor published his first book The Chapbook (July 2011) and will publish his second book New Poems (October 2012) via Concepcion Books, a new Curbside imprint.
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