Early morning -
The birds, frogs and a bark from a distant dog usher in the day.
There is the sound of parting water - a whoosh, a slap,as a well-worn man rows his small and weather beaten boat up to ours.
He greets us with a hearty toothless smile and begins to rattle off his ‘wants’ in a deep Caribbean Creole dialect. It is hard to understand him but it turns out that he is just hungry and he wants to know if we have food to spare.
His eyes are depleted, his spirit is waning but his attitude is healthy even as his body projects a different image.
We ask his name - he said, “Kenny.”
We gather up what we can and hand it to him, but he shakes his head “no”
At first I didn’t get why he was not accepting the items but I soon figure out he wants it all in a bag; it is easier to carry – we comply.
He then takes the food happily, greedily and with gratitude, and he and rows off.
My tears flow, I am shattered as the realization that he has nothing hits me hard.
My husband calls him back to the boat and gives him a t-shirt.
Again filled with deep happiness, he proudly puts the shirt on and asks when we will return. I tell him Dec. but he shakes his head. He says with a slight quietness, “I don’t think I will be around.” I assure him that I will come back and find him.
– He bids us farewell and rows away.
The Spirit of the Caribbean…. Be still in my aching heart, with me on land. (dl)