In Search of Paradise

The raging sea deposits him upon the shore,
so drenched, so battered, he is only half-alive.
When she does happen along, her concern is more
than her fear…will this handsome stranger survive?

Such white-skinned, heavy-bearded sailors as this man
years ago had visited her tropical island once before
in ships of wood with many sails, ships so large they can
never be forgotten. She searches the beach but finds no more,

for he and he alone from his crew the angry sea has spit out
upon the beach – surely a sign from the gods of the sea
that he is special, sent just for her. Of this she has no doubt.
At that moment, their lives intertwine; it was fated to be.

The village nurses him back to health, until strong once again.
At first their hospitality he enjoys, for the surrounding sea
lavishes abundances upon the islanders, who all spend
each day at leisure. What better life could there ever be?

The maiden, filled with first love’s delight, knows happiness
unknown before their love. To her everything is now perfect.
But soon the man has grown quite restless, filled with emptiness
from his longing for home. “If you love me, you won’t object

to our leaving this island. I will show you a true paradise –
a new world of tall buildings, fancy clothes, wonderful
food, spirited drinks, so many beautiful things to add spice
to our life, with adventures to make life more meaningful.”

Her mind swimming with his promises, love filling her heart,
she eagerly informs her parents of their desire to leave.
An argument ensues…finally approval for them to depart
is given – knowing in her absence her parents forever will grieve.

Her father, chief of their tribe, now orders a sea-going canoe
be built. When ready, paddled by hand-picked, twenty, strong,
young men, the girl and her gift from the sea set forth to do
what no islander’s ever done – to seek Paradise can’t be wrong.

For day after long day they travel east across the open sea,
until there comes one morning, on the horizon …a ship!
As Kalura and her man are coming aboard, the last she’ll see
of her island home is the canoe as it begins its roundtrip.

Her man is immediately among friends, but she
is an object of curiosity and ridicule. So she stays
secluded in their cabin until land is made. It’ll be
better once in his village she tells herself for days.

Land! The ship makes port at a thriving, small town,
and Kalura is bedazzled by all the strange new sights –
buildings several stories tall, people riding up and down
the streets in horse-drawn carriages, taverns where nights

are as busy as days, ladies in fine dresses of every hue,
with hats with plumes, hair coiffured, their bodies adorned
with jewelry of gold, silver, and gems, all awash with new
scents of perfumes. Small wonder her man had so scorned

the simple life back on her island. Here there are wonderful
new tastes in food and drinks, strange animals, constant hustle
and bustle – excitement, with everything grand and delightful.
This is Paradise for men who survive by their wit and muscle.

At first Kalura is happy, swept away by this newfound life.
But soon she sees behind the glitter lies a hidden ugliness
she has never known before – men cheating on their wife,
drunkenness, thievery, fighting and killing…much evilness.

Her man soon tires of her and her native values. He throws
Kalura out to fend for herself. Alone, frightened, she cries
herself to sleep each night. She grows desperate, for she knows
there is no way home. Her island is lost to her until she dies.

The evening comes when she is prepared to end her suffering.
As she holds the knife to her heart…a knock at her door!
A stranger with a strange proposition – he is wondering
if she would guide a scientific expedition sent to explore

those native islands to the west. He has been told that she
comes from one of the islands; perhaps the language she speaks?
He would pay her to accompany them if she could only be
persuaded to do so. Her answer is the tears of joy on her cheeks.

Kalura stands at the ship’s bow, looking toward home in the west.
She has learned a hard lesson in life – the value of parental advice.
The dolphins riding the waves from the bow’s plowing the sea best
mirror how her heart leaps for joy – she is heading back to Paradise.

Harry Edward Gilleland      05.12.04