Tuesday, 27 March 2007
03:31:11 PM (GMT)
The starved eye devours a seascape for the morsel
Of a sail.
The horizon threads it infinitely.
Action breeds frenzy, I lie,
Sailing the ribbed shadow of a palm,
Afraid lest my own footprints multiply.
Blowing sand, thin as smoke,
Bored, shifts its dunes.
The surf tires of its castles like a child.
The salt green vine with its yellow trumpet-flower,
A net, inches across nothing.
Nothing: the rage with which the sandfly's head is filled.
Pleasures of an old man:
Morning: contemplative evacuation, considering
The dried leaf, nature's plan.
In the sun, the dog's feces
Crusts, whitens like coral.
We end in earth, from earth began.
In our own entrails, genesis.
If I listen I can hear the polyp build.
The silence thwanged by two waves of the sea.
Cracking a sea-louse, I make thunder split.
Godlike, annihilating godhead, art
And self, I abandon
Dead metaphors: the almond's leaf-like heart,
The ripe brain rotting lika a yellow nut
Its babel of sea-lice, sandfly, and maggot,
That green wine bottle's gospel choked with sand,
Labelled, a wrecked ship,
Clenched sea-wood nailed and white as a man's hand.
Homecoming: Anse La Raye
[for Garth St. Omer]
Whatever else we learned
at school, like solemn Afro-Greeks eager for grades,
of Helen and the shades
of borrowed ancestors,
there are no rites
for those who have returned,
only, when her looms fade,
drilled in our skulls, the doom-
only this well-known passage
under the coconuts' salt-rusted
swords, these rotted
leathery sea-grape leaves,
the seacrabs' brittle helmets, and
this barbecue of branches, like the ribs
of sacrificial oxen on scorched sand;
only this fish-gut-reeking beach
whose frigates tack like buzzards overhead,
whose spindly, sugar-headed children race
pelting up from the shallows
because your clothes,
seem a tourist's.
They swarm like flies
round your heart's sore.
Suffer them to come,
entering your needle's eye,
knowing whether they live or die,
what others make of life will pass them by
like that far silvery freighter
threading the horizon like a toy;
for once, like them
you wanted no career
but this sheer light, this clear,
infinite, boring, paradisal sea,
but hoped it would mean something to declare
today, I am your poet, yours,
all this you knew,
but never guessed you'd come
to know there are homecomings without home.
You give them nothing.
Their curses melt in air.
The black cliffs scowl,
the ocean sucks its teeth,
like that dugout canoe
a drifting petal fallen in a cup,
with nothing but its image,
you sway, reflecting nothing.
The freighter's silvery ghost
is gone, the children gone.
Dazed by the sun
you trudge back to the village
past the white, salty esplanade
under whose palms dead
fishermen move their draughts in shade,
crossing, eating their islands,
and one, with a politician's
ignorant, sweet smile, nods,
as if all fate
swayed in his lifted hand.