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  • Maldonado
  • Brent Pallas (bio)

For months Darwin had been keen to go ashore. . . . The town
was barren, and the hilly countryside teemed with horses, cattle
and bandits. . . . but he managed to find a pair of guides. . . . and on
9 May they galloped off. . . .

Darwin, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore

He felt that small death—of the émigré       leaning from what had been             astride the strange embankment, anticipation turning its key       in him lifting the eyes             above the bulwark of the sea's collapse       on every plank of his sleep.             His thoughts caught in the curve of reflection—far       from ladies distressed             by the establishment of peonies in their gardens, parlour scents       of cake and cobbler's wax, every             examination for term through through. No longer an old hen       scratching in one corner             of a thousand- acre wood. He could look beyond a harbour's       embrace, sense the sea's             deepening blue as porpoises rose like glittering notes       above the sea's din.             Every step an arrival. As the seals at night sang, bellowing       like cattle slipping beyond             the embankment of home—no soprano ever ascended       a rarer note. His body still             a tipsy raft, taking steps, [End Page 49] keeping the gravity of ropes and railings       close as letters home, of curious             Crustaceans, fungus, and fireflies flitting amongst       the hedges, flowers springing             from the darkness of stems, the clutter of trips inland,       his pockets rattling with pillboxes,             a genus that feeds on feathers, and spiders so solitary       they swallow their own. No longer             a life living in the wings, curtained by shadows.       A switch was flicked. He became             the stranger bearing a pocket of wondrous matches,       a compass pointing home, a beard             among the clean-shaven. Stepping ashore at last knowing       if your view is limited, many objects             possess beauty.                   Even Maldonado with its dusty streets       and great square, bordered by hills             of unblinking green, grassy plains of cattle grazing, a few       brilliant birds and cacti, their shadows             in the midday sun like pieces of cut black paper along       the road where yesterday             the gaudy scarlet of a traveler lay, his throat cut—and that too       he would write home             about.

Brent Pallas

Brent Pallas lives and works in New York City as an illustrator and craft/home project designer for magazines. His poetry has appeared in the Southern Review, 2RV, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry, Gettysburg Review, the New England Review and other journals.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 49-50
Launched on MUSE
2006-09-11
Open Access
No
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