To read The Prologue, click here. You can read all the following chapters starting there.
On the weather-cured porch Mira’s father said:
A woman was attacked last night; blood all over
the home; her name was Blanca Cors, a widow.
Mira held her breath until her father told her:
She’s alive and they think she’ll recover.
Mira ran to the ranch, calling for Will and Sandy;
they had heard the news, and she told Sandy:
We saw Primitivo running from the home of Blanca Cors.
Primitivo was not at his cabin, but under the elm,
arms and legs sprawling like roots;
What happened? Will asked him.
Primitivo gathered himself:
I heard a signal of distress and ran toward it;
a woman’s scream;
and he lowered his head:
I turned and ran away.
We heard it too, Will told him,
But when we came to the house
it was too late.
Primitivo took recognizable shape:
I thought of the price of cowardice
and came back; he had carried her away
into the swamp, and so I followed with a howl
that came from my pain.
I thought I saw someone, Sandy said,
a stranger, but I did not see his face;
come back to the cabin with us.
Will told Primitivo:
They will suspect you;
but Primitivo was making another connection:
The woman’s voice was like music,
music I’ve heard before.
On the way it began to rain
and at the cabin Morris Rubra was pacing
in the oak hammock’s shelter;
Mira’s knees shook as she ran to him:
We’re afraid they’ll think Primitivo did it.
Morris Rubra nodded and took Primitivo aside;
they spoke in spiked tones;
Go on home, Morris Rubra said to the children,
his hands prayer-gripped together:
I’ll see what I can do.
Hours later, Mira’s father called to her:
Come with me;
she hopped into the jeep; at the airport,
a scar of concrete and a hangar in a fallow field,
Morris Rubra’s plane was on the runway
Mira gasped, recognizing the hulking figure
in the back seat: Shadow!
and then she whispered: Primitivo.
The plane flew over plains and chains of lakes;
at the end of a circuitous river launching
over a great expanse of water:
Lake Okeechobee, corralled by levees,
drowned in polluted sediment
Dipping down they landed on an airstrip
plowed into wetlands, edged by dunes,
near the Seminole reservation
Primitivo familiarized himself with his new home:
Black-calabash, dwarf cypress, everglades
and rough leaf velvet seed, and silver palm
On the flight home the moonlight was beaten silver
on the lake, and streams shimmered through grass
and sandy runes, taking their breath away