Raymond Farr The 2River View, 5.4 (Summer 2001)

Compromise in Eden

On my visit to the Fountain of Youth
in sleepy St. Augustine, I sipped from a cup
hoping like everyone to be renewed,
then paused on the trail leading back to the parking lot
and stared at the lush marshland lagoon
where the first Spanish ships quietly anchored.
I stood there, the sun heating the moist Florida air,
and couldn't help imagining
what those Spanish explorers experienced.
They named it Florida—pascua florida.
It must have seemed Edenic.
Part garden. Part still-unwritten poem.
And given a choice: wading ashore in spring 1512,
or walking ghost-like through this tourist-trap,
I yearned for the former.
I wanted to be anyone but who I've become.
I realized that De Leon's men, who must have longed,
like me, to be transformed,
took refuge in this steamy marsh,
exchanging desires they could never satisfy
for land grants and titles of deed.

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