You used to be able to drive (though I don't) across
the wide, pool-sheeted pasture below the house
to the hot, empty beach and park in the starved shade
of the acacias that print those tiny yellow flowers
(blank, printless beaches are part of my trade);
then there were men with tapes and theodolites who measured
the wild, uneven ground. I watched the doomed acres
where yet another luxury hotel will be built
with ordinary people fenced out. The new makers
of our history profit without guilt
and are, in fact, prophets of a policy
that will make the island a mall, and the breakers
grin like waiters, like taxi drivers, these new plantations
by the sea; a slavery without chains, with no blood spilt—
just chain-link fences and signs, the new degradations.
I felt such freedom writing under the acacias.
Bossman, if you look in those bush there, you'll find
a whole set of passport, wallet, I.D., credit card,
that is no use to them, is money on their mind
and is not every time you'll find them afterwards.
You jest leave your bag wif these things on the sand,
and faster than wind they jump out of the bush
while you there swimming and rubbing tanning lotion,
and when you find out it is no good to send
the Special Unit, they done reach Massade.
But I not in that, not me, I does make a lickle
change selling and blowing conch shells, is sad
but is true. Dem faster than any vehicle,
and I self never get in any commotion
except with the waves, and soon all that will be lost.
Is too much tourist and too lickle employment.
How about a lickle life there? Thanks, but Boss,
don't let what I say spoil your enjoyment.
You see those breakers coming around Pigeon Island
bowing like nuns in a procession? One thing I know,
when you're gone like my other friends, not to Thailand
or Russia, but wherever it is loved friends go
with their different beliefs, who were like a flock
of seagulls leaving the mirror of the sand,
or a bittern passing lonely Barrel of Beef,
or the sails that an egret hoists leaving its rock;
I go down to the same sea by another road
with manchineel shadows and stunted sea grapes
dwarfed by the wind. I carry something to read:
the wind is bright and shadows race like grief,
I open their books and see their distant shapes
approaching and always arriving, their voices heard
in the page of a cloud, like the soft surf in my head.