Hoyt Rogers


Late afternoon, I scrabble down the mountainside;
twilight seeps, laps in puddles as I reach the coast.
   But now the moon, shining like an upstart sun,
   already ambles in the east; raptly, I saunter on 
through her otherworldly radiance, keeping the sea
always to my right. From the marshes, I eavesdrop
   on familiar bird calls: the whistles of tree ducks,
   the screeches of hobgoblin owls, the vanquished
plaints of potoos, the quequerequés of nighthawks.
Soon I must ford the treasonous shoals of Río Frío,
   where the chilly stream runs counter to the waves: 
   the dodgiest leg of the trek, as knees, shins, ankles
all know. The rocks are slippery, as usual; I choreograph 
my footing by trial or terror, my river-sandals a godsend
   in the maze. Unscathed, I slip them off and pad two miles
   along the dunes to Dos Ríos. Quickening my gait, I settle
into tune with the moon’s reflections, platinum stripes
fleeting like medusas on the sodden, immaculate sand.
   Laced with phosphorescence, rivulets uncurl from the quiet
   brine, its hoarse roar subsiding into a faint, continuous sigh.
The offing spins a crisp, black band at the sky’s farthest rim.
No wind now, not even a breeze. The palm groves to my left
   stand transfixed, like mourners around a grave; longing
   vainly for words of solace, they mutely bow their heads.
I wade the rivers’ silty shallows, then trudge to our octagonal
shrine with its dual eaves; its eight derelict doors—the ‘doors
   of wisdom,’ we joked—hang awry. Stealing up the corkscrew
   stairs, I shut those sagged, wiseacre eyes as snugly as our love,
in its downturn, allows. But the moonlight will not be stanched:
on nights like this, it floods the soaring, conical roof, penetrates
   the loose-laid tiles, pulsing to the sluggish, syncopated largo
   of the clouds. The ceiling crouches above me like a monster 
moon itself, a predatory lunar disc; ragged halos crawl across
my nose, teasing me awake; cicadas, katydids chirr and thrum
   from the underbrush nearby. At midnight, I give up. I stroll,
   oddly expectant, to the shore... 
                                                     On half the horizon, a squall
blurs the sky, while the other half spotlessly glows: the moon
blazes at her zenith, a pockmarked face veiled by fine, drizzly
   mists. Spellbound, I step forward, as if I were crossing a threshold;
   and then I see the moonbows—for the one and only time, no doubt.
Over the whole dome of night, a rainbow in grisaille begins
to dawn, in spectral shades of white and bone, silvered grey,
   charcoal and black; shimmering, the vault redoubles farther on,
   and now two moonbows overarch the fathomless, violet blue... 
Like a lesson on perspective from an antique book,
they retreat into infinity: portals to a prescient void
   that breathes with ghostly life.

Hoyt Rogers is a writer and translator. He translates from the French, German, Italian, and Spanish. He has published many books; he has contributed poetry, fiction, essays, and translations to a wide variety of periodicals. His edition of Yves Bonnefoy’s Rome, 1630 received the 2021 Translation Prize from the French-American Foundation. His forthcoming works include a poetry collection, Thresholds (MadHat Press), the novel Sailing to Noon (book one of The Caribbean Trilogy), and a translation of Bonnefoy’s The Wandering Life (Seagull Books). For more information, please visit his website, hoytrogers.com.