Tourists trudge through
the makeshift marketplace along the dock,
inspect the obligatory merchandise:
chess sets, shell necklaces,
coconuts carved into faces.
“Very cheap,” says one local after another.
But they have little time to stop.
They’re on their way
to a flotilla of buses
that will take them around the island.
They’ll hear the history, see the sights.
No need to worry that they’ve missed a bargain.
The trinkets aren’t going anywhere.
They’ll be even cheaper on their return.
Besides, there’s such a thing as
tourist’s Alzheimer’s –
all interesting tidbits from the past
are completely forgotten
with the first sip of a rum punch back on board.
And sure, the photographs of turquoise sea,
palm-tree hills, will make the family rounds.
But, in a month, they’ll have been overlaid
by close-ups of somebody or other’s new baby.
But a ceramic dolphin,
made in China,
will occupy pride of place on their mantle.
People will ask
or they’ll ask themselves,
“Now where did that come from?”
Somewhere, in the Caribbean,
the locals are parading their wares
before the next boat-load
and are much too busy to answer.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.