After the Atlantic

Dasia Moore

I.

When I arrive in Jamaica, I imagine Grandad growing old.
I see him weaving between brightly-colored roadside shops,

smiling and chatting up the neighborhood. Dark and bright.
At home. Gleaming. Just like the scene in Charleston where

for years, I have tried to hold him: Home, South Carolina,
summer day. Street of brightly-colored houses.

II.

Home has no hills. The tour guide points to the hills.
Homes standing proud against mountainsides.

The guide the age Grandad must’ve been
when he first held me. What happens to a man

who builds his house on sand? he asks. Why
build our houses in the hills?

I know the answer. Grandad taught me.

III.

It is not the rainy season, but still it rains every day.
Eve and I visit a farm. We duck trees, tin roofs,
vining roses, half in and out of spotting storms.

Each time the sky clears, sun shines hot. Thirsty
ground and puddles disappeared. Eve teaches me
to chew cane like her childhood in DR. Drunk sugar

-water spit and sound of rain. We translate names
for plants and home. Seed that planted us this side
of a rising ocean. From the plane to Jamaica,

we watched the earth even as we changed it.
Water drinking the islands. Sea’s churn summoned
by our polluted sky. I do not want to name

this movement. My vacation into new words
for home. “Down South,” I offer to Eve
and our guide, “The old folks say a sun-shower means

the devil is beating his wife.” The guide pauses
against the mountains he knows.
“That’s what we call it here, too.”

IV.

It is not the rainy season in Charleston or St. Ann,
but earth is changing, so it rains. From the resort:

palm fronds shaking sky. Wrung water. Familiar wind.
I close my eyes to South Carolina, the yellow mansion

I once dreamed of owning. And here, the big houses
also yellow, pink, sea blue, green, gate-guarded.

I did not tell Grandad I flew over the ocean.
He has never crossed it. I paid my passage,

my right to see, to sink the world so I could write it.
To complain of heat, of rain, warming storms,

of lost islands, lost land, lost homes.

My home does not have hills. Low city. Grandad’s
house between two rivers and the Atlantic.

What happens to Black sand children of a god
who advised against blackness and sand?

Water licking our heels, we watch god leave us
swimming. Curious to see how bad we want

something worth naming our home.

A flood did not take Grandad’s house,
but I imagine it underwater.

Sold and sunken, beyond reach—

Dasia Moore

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

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