This place tried to be paradise.
The devil came to look it over
but what fun is ruining a place
that is almost ruined already?
So he must have gone someplace else,
Bali, maybe, though even it
is getting just packed
with tourists, like the ones I saw on a beach
last week; 50 degrees and there they sat
in their bathing suits, holding their pale
pink and white faces up to the pale weak sun
as if it were golden.
There I sat, on the way to the hospital, stuck
in traffic, like those who wait in that waiting place
called pairidaeza, for judgment and hopefully
and I still remember what it was like here
when I was a child, the smells
of flowers and sweet suntan oil and salt air
the magnificent giant conches
as plentiful as grains of sand
on the beaches—
so that I wonder, is a paradise lost
better than not at all?—
though sometimes I get a glimpse
of it, when it’s hot and a nice cool breeze
from the sea manages to squeeze
through the skinny spaces between high rises
and all the gorgeous new palms:
coconut and royal and date . . .
and I can’t remember
the rest, there are so many
and sometimes a sky—sky
so pure and fresh and clear
it’s as if some creator
had just dreamed it up,
as if it had just been painted.