Derek Walcott

“But drunkenly, or secretly, we swore,
Disciples of that astigmatic saint,
That we would never leave the island
Until we had put down, in paint, in words,
As palmists learn the network of a hand,
All of its sunken, leaf-choked ravines,
Every neglected, self-pitying inlet
Muttering in brackish dialect, the ropes of mangroves
From which old soldier crabs slipped
Surrendering to slush,
Each ochre track seeking some hilltop and
Losing itself in an unfinished phrase,
Under sand shipyards where the burnt-out palms
Inverted the design of unrigged schooners,
Entering forests, boiling with life,
Goyave, corrosol, bois-canot, sapotille.
Days!

The sun drumming, drumming,
Past the defeated pennons of the palms,
Roads limp from sunstroke,
Past green flutes of the grass
The ocean cannonading, come!
Wonder that opened like the fan
Of the dividing fronds
On some noon-struck sahara,
Where my heart from its rib cage yelped like a pup
After clouds of sanderlings rustily wheeling
The world on its ancient,
Invisible axis,
The breakers slow-dolphining over more breakers,
To swivel our easels down, as firm
As conquerors who had discovered home.”


Derek Walcott, Another Life: Fully Annotated
tags: poetry
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Another Life: Fully Annotated Another Life: Fully Annotated by Derek Walcott
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