A poem about an experience I had on the island of Ebeye in the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the middle of the Pacific. A Marshallese friend once told me that the Pacific has no memory. I wrote this poem in 2001, but it has always haunted my thoughts. It has many revisions, but this is the current one I like the most.
I walked dusty streets baked in tropic sun,
poverty, despair, and isolation.
Abandoned junk every ten paces
with Every doorway filled with hopeful faces.
I’m surrounded by children of the street
clothed in dirty tank tops and bare feet.
Their one and only crime is innocence
with a striking absence of any pretense.
Walking on alone with bottled water divine,
suddenly a little hand tenderly touched mine.
I look down at beautiful pleading eyes
to find my bottled water now her prize.
Off she went protecting her treasure,
to find a secluded spot to indulge her pleasure.
Out of a rundown shack she pulled another,
her prize never her own, but for her little brother.
© 2019 Gregory Vessar