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Thursday, March 30, 2006

JANUARY 1ST, ST. LUCIA, THE WEST INDIES by William Joyce


JANUARY 1ST, ST. LUCIA, THE WEST INDIES


Finally after forty years
I begin a year
instead of ending one.

It begins with the first light,
not light poured from a city coffee can,
but offered in white sheets, a thousand
general's tunics, light the solemnity
of a formal review of troops,
light come in the wake of ships
over the mountain to unsheath
the banana palms to gleaming sabres,
light stunning the brain to perfect
thoughtlessness, light trickling
out of my pants pockets,
out of my fingernails
draining the snot of a tired civilization.

In such a light the banshee
fronds of the coconut tree grow
little pompadours; the grackel
raises his wings in the reflection
of glass doors; roosters go mad
to hump anything that moves
the light is that profuse.
And there are still 10 more hours of light.

No wonder Columbus saw the Garden of Eden
on a pear-shaped mountain
or Balboa at 60 went mad
looking for his beardless chin.
Overwhelmed by this light everything
grows and is swallowed
by its own gleam.

In January, with the first light
and a lean trade wind, it is always
the 14th century in the Caribbean.
A sailboat in the bay
is always the first boat.
This woman by my side
is the first woman to stand
naked on the side of a mountain.

If Edison reduced light to a bulb
in the name of curiosity,
progress has forgotten the name
for this unwinding sheath at dawn.
Each day it is new and must be
reinvented. Today I will call it
half-owl, half-sparrow.
Birds, trees, flowers
go unnamed; the people
adopt four names then desert them
for "I Roy" reggae star
and latest red flicker of the Caribbean.
A tree reinvents itself from the roof
of a deserted sugar mill and shakes
in the first light like a unicorn.

I will accept this formal void
any morning rather than wear
the shadows of the museum city.
For certain I am baffled at thought
reneging on the years for a glow
at the spine when light comes
tapping across the wooden deck
with the grackel begging for bread.
Or the three doves who survivied
The Time of the Hurricane
and The Time of the Troubles
and now demand a certified roof
to recover. Like them I am furtive
and want my share of concealment.
Yet for these few moments
all the unnamed parts of me
stand erect and a little curious
waiting for the light to inspect me
at the beginning of something important.

Posted by jebratt :: Thursday, March 30, 2006 :: 0 comments

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