NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 23

III The docks are dark and hooded, the warehouses locked, and his insomnia rages like the moon above the zinc roofs and spindly palms; he rouses himself and dresses slowly in his small room: he walks to the beach, the hills are brooding wales against them drift the flambeaux and the lanterns of the crab fisherman, the yachts have furled their sails. He goes for this long walk when guilt returns; indifferent to a constellation’s Morse, his resignation no longer sends out fleets of power, an echo of that force like dissipating spume on the night sand. To the revolving beam of the Cyclopic lighthouse. he hears the suction of his soul’s death-rattle., but his is a history without remorse. He hears the mocking cannonade of battle from the charging breakers and sees the plumming hordes of tribesmen galloping down the hills of sand and hears the old phrase “Peccavi. I have Sind.” Think of the treaties signed by the same one-ringed hand, think of the width of its power could encompass: “one-seventh of the globe,” we learnt in class. Its promontories, docks, its towers and minarets, with the power that vanished as dew does from the grass in the rising dawn of a sun that never sets. Copyright 2010 in White Egrets and in 2014 in The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013. Selected by Glen Maxwell, 2014. Both books published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Reprinted here with permission of Derek Walcott and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. On the croton bush by the window the tail of the cat swishes as a dragonfly dances. A vast and moral idleness stretching before him, the café’s demotic dialogues at its peak hour. The things he cherishes now are the things that bore him, and how powerlessness contains such power. The costumes that he wore, and the roles that wore him. 21 His fingers sticky with rum around a glass, he can see the scorched square where a saint presides, and its dry foundation where lizards shoot through grass and the cathedral’s candlelit insides. In the sunlit bar the woman draws the blinds, they look like the slitted lids of a lioness (the yellow sheaves she hides in are his mind’s) the café is quiet, safe from the street’s noise, what he likes now confirms the aftermath of great events; a tilted sail, a heron elaborately picking out is path, a beetle on its back: such things wear on his concentrated care since the old scale has been reduced (as are his circumstances). BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE IV