Friday, March 21, 2014

Lasting Geographies, Written on the Heart

It is late now, on a rainy Saturday night, late March here, when Fall is coming in. My darling and my Cello are fast asleep. Tenderness is in my heart, and so I give you this poem, a homage to June B., with whom I taught at SEEK for so many years. It is not finished, but it shows, I hope, that whole geographies and their poetics can enter one on the wings of friendship.

Poem For June
(written in Melbourne, April 15, 2013)

It was you who first islanded me, 
who showed me how to step from
bony spine to bony spine,
waters of history and endless time
lapping at volcanic determination.

You freed for me the lyric possibilities
of island memory.
Of how to eat a mango, the poet, your friend, sang.
Of how to find the beaten flesh and hunker down
In caves deep in mountains' sides
Until the tyrants drowned in those
Blue seas ringed by flaming trees.

For twenty years we scoured texts,
Flesh and seed to feed
Our students' quest. 
Now I am 73
And live upon an island continent
Far from where we started.
But I have my island legs,
And more, your voices deep within me.

(From June I learned the wonders of Caribbean women poets and followed her hands upon the map of the Islands and Guyana.)

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