Envy grew green as island pines. Your narrow saltbox: high-ceilinged rooms, chamber pots beneath iron beds, stone-floor kitchen with hand pump and black, wood-burning stove—matriarchal dragon dominating the room, captured me. Your grandmother, brown and bony as yourself, knew things. I trotted behind as she gentled Sunday’s chicken. Ax arced, shell-carved eye stilled while deranged feathers convulsed in mad, mute tarantella. I was baptized in blood. You hungered only for trolley rides, glass revolving-doors, luncheons on the mezzanine, until you turned fifteen—one umbrella step ahead as always—left for New Orleans, a married woman.
Island wives lashed tongues, raised long, red welts on your memory: Got herself in trouble. Uh-huh. I alone knew it wasn’t love or even lust that lured you; it was city lights. Had I been offered spells and incantations, I’d have gone too.