Midsummer I

The jet bores like a silverfish through volumes of cloud –
clouds that will keep no record of where we have passed,
nor the sea’s mirror, nor the coral busy with its own
culture; they aren’t doors of dissolving stone,
but pages in a damp culture that come apart.
So a hole in their parchment opens, and suddenly, in a vast
dereliction of sunlight, there’s that island known
to the traveller Trollope, and the fellow traveller Froude,
for making nothing. Not even a people. The jet’s shadow
ripples over green jungles as steadily as a minnow
through seaweed. Our sunlight is shared by Rome
and your white paper, Joseph. Here, as everywhere else,
it is the same age. In cities, in settlements of mud,
light has never had epochs. Near the rusty harbor
around Port of Spain bright suburbs fade into words –
Maraval, Diego Martin – the highways long as regrets,
and steeples so tiny you couldn’t hear their bells,
nor the sharp exclamation of whitewashed minarets
from green villages. The lowering window resounds
over pages of earth, the canefields set in stanzas.
Skimming over an ocher swamp like a fast cloud of egrets
are nouns that find their branches as simply as birds.
It comes too fast, this shelving sense of home –
canes rushing the wing, a fence; a world that still stands as
the trundling tires keep shaking and shaking the heart.

Derek Walcott