I haven’t actually “met” Felicity Harley in person yet, although we’ve shared the island of Bequia for many years now. I knew of Felicity locally through her philanthropy in conceiving of a couple of successful organizations that help the local people of the island help themselves. Then I discovered she was also a published author, so I invited her to promote her books on Reading Recommendations. And she has been a staunch supporter of me, of my writing, and the blog ever since! We try to keep in more regular contact now, especially whenever I’m on-island, so I can apprise her of all the local “news” … I’m happy to say we will finally have a chance to meet in person this winter when Felicity returns to Bequia for a visit. And we’re already discussing ideas of holding a writing retreat/readers’ con/some-such-gathering-involving-words on the island! More on that later, though. Here’s what Felicity wrote to celebrate Reading Recommendations 2nd Anniversry!
I’ve been thinking about how entertaining it was reading your book, Island in the Clouds, that takes place on Bequia. It was really fun to guess who your characters were! Thank you so much for your support of my writing, it has really meant a lot to me.
It’s wonderful to share such a beautiful place with a fellow writer, and so I send a few poems about one of my favorite places in the world and dedicated to our joint love of Bequia, sweet oh so sweet!
For a dear friend and neighbour, Lou Keane, who died this year
We met on the plane
coming over to Bequia
she’d been all the way to China
to see the terra-cota statues
and the Great Wall.
Now she’s coming back
to this nowhere place in the
middle of the Atlantic Ocean,
glad to be home
to smell the wild frangipanis
The feel of the heat under my feet
the sky like the underside of a shadow
the wind moving the sea-grape leaves
the spume of the ocean pushing up towards the rocks
the smiling boys I’ve known all their lives
diving into the surf like sharp arrows
coming up for breath, human flotsam
no separation between them and the white
and black of the ocean
that stretches as far as eternity.
A tree bent like an old women
held up against the wind
on a city street corner.
Silence and the wash of it
lonely and warm,
as I clasp my knees,
salt hair sticking against my lips,
knowing that I will always
remember the sound and smell of it.
Thank God for the rain
when it comes it pounds
the ground with heartbeats,
relieving the dry earth
till it runs rivers of soft, brown leaves
and dirt down the gullies
that breath a hot moist smell
that grows fecund
in the mid-afternoon
and the plants and trees
moan with delight
as it passes its silver blades
flashing across their green swell.
Flowers open to drink
and then it is gone
leaving the birds to sing joyfully
in the calm transparent afterlight.
Plastic tablecloth with poppies,
a whitewashed outdoor kitchen,
and a washing machine
that looks like it came from the sixties.
Water is scarce here,
so we dump the laundry
out after one cycle
and rinse it in a big steel tub
then in large white, plastic buckets
before we wring it and hang it on the line
at the back of the house.
She squeezes me orange juice
hot from the morning sun that has fallen
on the fruit’s skin as it brushes the walls of her kitchen.
A quick twist of her strong hands
and the glass is full of sweet
We sit in front of the house
with a view of boats far below in the harbor,
under a paw paw tree with maybe
twenty huge green fruit
that look like footballs of different shapes and sizes.
We chat of children and grandchildren.
Its far from my life at home
in front of a computer
inside my office all day,
when I come home, late at night.