A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Deidra Greenleaf Allan

has been published in American Poetry Review, Poetry Miscellany, Puerto del Sol, West Branch, and Wind Magazine, among other printed and online journals.

She received her undergraduate degree from Temple University and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

In 2012, one of her poems was selected as the winner of the Musehouse Poem of Hope contest. In 2001, she was selected as Montgomery County Poet Laureate in a competition judged by Robert Hass. Also that year, she received a Leeway Emerging Artist Award and was nominated by Vermont College for the Modern Poetry Association’s Ruth Lily Fellowship. In 2002, she was a finalist for a Pew Fellowship in poetry.

Her chapbook, published in 2008, is entitled How the Light Gets In.

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What the Island Wants

is to abjure its placid life of deception,
               its ticky-tacky facade of paradise.

How many years has it coasted along
              pimping its pale beaches, blue lagoons,

and flickering grottos, projecting an air of carpe diem
              while hiding its true nature?

Eons ago, in a more authentic moment, it turned
              the sky black, releasing a molten river

into the sea, which writhed and hissed like a nest
              of wakened snakes, then coiled up

and flung itself at whatever lay in its path.
              The island dreams of letting loose again,

of feeling the sulfurous bile rise and spill
              across its infested beaches, searing off

the quizzical smiles of tourists as they stand transfixed,
              unable to turn from its true, beautiful, ruined face.

What the island wants is to be taken back.
              Or drowned at sea. Free from the constant reminders

of what it is—a cataclysmic side effect, discarded rubble
              of some greater plan.

It doesn’t remember wanting to be an island,
              strung out among strangers

in an archipelago of loneliness—tail torn loose
              from its kite. It never asked

to be thought of as a refuge. How can it help anyone?
              Even now, tides tug mercilessly

at its causeway, thin umbilicus
              that is its only link with the past. It closes its eyes

to the distant blue-misted coastline—heart-rock,
              primordial shore—and tries to forget

the connection, but waves keep leaving messages
              like perfumed handkerchiefs in the sand.

What the island wants is to drift off toward the horizon
              and be swallowed up like the sun,

released from the despair of unbreachable distances.
              Or else to return—its jagged shore rejoined

with whatever crumbled cliff it was torn from, old wounds sealed.
              As if there had never been more than one.

As if longing were not its essential condition.