from “Omeros” (by Derek Walcott)

BOOK SIX

Chapter XLIV

I

In hill-towns, from San Fernando to Mayagüez,
the same sunrise stirred the feathered lances of cane
down the archipelago’s highways. The first breeze

rattled the spears and their noise was like distant rain
marching down from the hills, like a shell at your ears.
In the cool asphalt Sundays of the Antilles

the light brought the bitter history of sugar
across the squared fields, heightening towards harvest,
to the bleached flags of the Indian diaspora.

The drizzling light blew across the savannah
darkening the racehorses’ hides; mist slowly erased
the royal palms on the crests of the hills and the

hills themselves. The brown patches the horses had grazed
shone as wet as their hides. A skittish stallion
jerked at his bridle, marble-eyed at the thunder

muffling the hills, but the groom was drawing him in
like a fisherman, wrapping the slack line under
one fist, then with the other tightening the rein

and narrowing the circle. The sky cracked asunder
and a forked tree flashed, and suddenly that black rain
which can lose an entire archipelago

in broad daylight was pouring tin nails on the roof,
hammering the balcony. I closed the French window,
and thought of the horses in their stalls with one hoof

tilted, watching the ropes of rain. I lay in bed
with current gone from the bed-lamp and heard the roar
of wind shaking the windows, and I remembered

Achille on his own mattress and desperate Hector
trying to save his canoe, I thought of Helen
as my island lost in the haze, and I was sure

I’d never see her again. All of a sudden
the rain stopped and I heard the sluicing of water
down the guttering. I opened the window when

the sun came out. It replaced the tiny brooms
of palms on the ridges. On the red galvanized
roof of the paddock, the wet sparkled, then the grooms

led the horses over the new grass and exercised
them again, and there was a different brightness
in everything, in the leaves, in the horses’ eyes.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s