They Will Sew the Blue Sail

TRAVEL FRAGMENT | Taryn Schwilling

sometimes I feel

like a young woman

my lover nowhere

I feel the influence

of death in this



the feel of someone—

else’s human skin


I am making a history

of which there is no proof

save this letter to you


these women look starved

& the men refuse to

speak to me


I am afraid I am

strange here


my least & greatest

fear is to not be



these clothes for weeks


today I encountered a girl-

child in a wedding gown

on horseback   stunning

in her rags & unbrushed hair 

her eyes would not cry


and what of lawlessness


today I ate

some local flora

and am very ill


this view is my

solitary prize


in thought alone

I walk daily


today I heard

no birdsong


in this sultry weather

the horseflies

are nearly driving my mare



this afternoon I watched

two sparrows fight or breed

for hours


in the night our guide’s

mount was struck down

by lightning   I have never seen

any thing like it


a swarm of hornets devoured

all our fruit while we slept


the pinks blow hugely


the flies here are enormous

and sport about my face

till I am nearly mad


two of our party have

lately died of fever


a great hawk passed over

our camp three times today



horse mushrooms

abound they can-

not be eaten


I spent the night shivering

in worry of the fever


was relayed a most astonishing story

of a shipmate thrown into the sea

shark-infested near Ceylon

where he was rescued some

two days later having clung to

a yard-arm stark naked


lovely weather, red even


since arriving here

I have become fond

of shooting


I came upon an enormous skeleton

in the river today


walked nearly fifteen miles for fear

the path was too rocky for the horses’

unshod feet


I haven’t spoken to a person

in twelve days


I imagined I would see

the face of god

in this land I have

seen nothing


several bones

along the trail

as though they had been

placed there purposely