Amidst Americans celebrating
Labor Day in the Bahama Islands
(Vulgar, we thought, in their

Cabin cruisers, compared
To our small wooden sailboat
With no motor), we took peyote

And no one thought anything
Of our barfing off the side
Of our boat, which truly got

The peyote going. (Many
On other boats were really
Drunk and doing

More or less the same vomiting.)
As the sun went down
The other boats left and we went

To shore on the small island.
You migrated to the side
Of the island teeming

With thousands of life forms
In the small crags
Of the watery rocks

While I drifted over
To the side with the dead brain coral
Where it looked as if everything

Had happened and stopped happening.
We could barely hear each other calling
From our two sides of the island.

We could see
The differences
In our characters

There, you siding
With the living
And me taking

Communion among the dead.
(We knew peyote had taken us
To the shores of myth.)

I was soon to teach
At a prep school
And I resolved to teach

Your side of the island
As Lawrence and my side
As Eliot, teaching literature

As somethinig of
A living island
With its own

Cemetery side.
It was to be my first post
Teaching, and I was going

Out of my mind to find
Something to say
To those young faces.

You were by then
A veteran teacher, a natural
Teacher. You could

Step into any room
And teach any thing.
Peyote was the one doing

The teaching that night,
And we submitted and gambled
With our minds hoping

We might find something to take
Back to America, something
Beyond even where the boats go.