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from ‘INHERITANCE’ (poem) - Kwame Dawes - Jamaica/Ghana - Poetry International
 
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from ‘INHERITANCE’
O Christ, my craft and the long time it is taking!
Derek Walcott
I
 
In the shade of the sea grape trees the air is tart
with the sweet and sour of stewed fruit rotting
about his sandaled feet. His skin,
still Boston pale and preserved with Brahman
devotion by the hawkish woman
who smells cancer in each tropical wind,
is caged in shadows. I know those worn eyes,
their feline gleam, mischief riddled;
his upper lip lined with a thin stripe
of tangerine, the curled up nervousness
of a freshly shaved mustache. He is old
and cared for. He accepts mashed food
though he still has teeth – she insists and love
is about atoning for the guilt
of those goatish years in New England.
A prophet’s kind of old. Old like casket-
aged genius. Above, a gull surveys
the island, stitches loops thorough the sea and sky –
an even horizon, the bias on which
teeters a landscape, this dark loam of tradition
in which seeds split into tender leaves.