Wyoming poet Brandon McQuade’s “Jamaica” is a narrative of searching for God in the tropics and coming face to face with disillusionment. It also carries the juxtaposition between the vast wilderness of spirituality, represented by the sea, which the narrator dipped his toes into with trepidation, and the safe normalcy and man-made sterility of the pool. “Jamaica” is from Brandon’s new collection of poems, “Bodies”. He told The Dewdrop, “This poem is from my most recent book, ‘Bodies’. The poems in ‘Bodies’ explore the plurality of love and loss, tenderness and violence. Drawing from connections between people and animals, celestial bodies and bodies of water.”
Jamaica There’s something about swimming at a beach in water deep and dark enough that I lose sight of what’s beneath that sets my teeth on edge. After the shuttle driver sold us a bag of weed somewhere between the resort and the airport, I couldn’t stop seeing the cannabis green leaves on the tops of the palm trees. We smoked and smoked and smoked until the scent of the green plant clung to our fingertips like sex. Sitting on the balcony in the predawn darkness, smoking weed and hash, the glare of the streetlamps fading like smoke rings, I pretended to believe in God. Not because I feared death, even though I do. Not for any other reason than to have someone to speak to in my head. I told myself that my body was an ocean, treading water under my sun-bleached skin, and I prayed to my newfound God that I might find the strength to brave the inlet’s deep blue. Morning came, and I forgot all about my Jamaican God. I dipped my toes into the ocean, then returned to the pool.
Brandon McQuade is an award-winning poet and Founding Editor of Duck Head Journal. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Resurrection Mag, Rust + Moth, 34 Orchard and several other literary magazines and anthologies. He has published two collections of poetry, Mango Seed and Bodies. He received the Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award for a selection of poems from his recently published collection, Bodies.