Over there on that island you see the sun is always shining,
the old folks say. All kinds of exotic fruit trees grow, they tell us.
You just have to reach up as you pass and pluck the juiciest fruits dangling in front of you. And the birds, some say, are almost tame.
You can stand and watch as they flutter among the branches all day.
Perhaps even reach out and have one land on your hand if you stay still.
Over there, some declare, are magnificent caves one may explore,
secret spots where pirates in olden days may have stashed their loot.
A vein of silver may be uncovered with just a little digging, they say.
Or gold nuggets might gleam in the streams, just waiting to be picked up.
A man could soon get rich over there.
Ah, if we could only get there, they sigh.
But think of the dangers over there, others remind.
Fierce beasts with razor-sharp claws and teeth, ready to tear a body to bits.
Venomous snakes hanging from every tree and slithering through the tall grass. Moreover,
what if some hostile tribe has already discovered that paradise?
Perhaps, as we stand here gawking, they are busy
sharpening their spears, preparing to defend their island against all invaders.
They’d boil us in coconut oil and eat us for dinner.
And even if they’re peaceable, their customs would surely be bizarre.
Who knows what kind of clothes they wear over there?
So here we linger on the beach, speculating
and dreaming of that land. Imagining its beauties,
quaking over its terrors. For better or for worse,
how can we know, except we go?
Who’ll be the first to build a boat?