April 1 2015: Words on Wood
you’ll paint the words on wood
you tell me ——— without doubt it will be done
we propose to collaborate
—-–a bulldozer sat on lily’s house
———-“the wrong house”
———-“the agent ordered”
———-“I told him to wait”
———-The agent would not give a name
reincarnate————————–what was destroyed.
—–pick up a brush anyway
———-and under the mango tree
what do lily fear
—–cold of grave
———-lily question, question, question
April 2 2015: Pictures at the exhibition
you set up the walls:
milled clapboard slipped together
with hammer and nails
not pegged shipwise
fitted together to strengthen in weather
I paint them
paint no longer frightens me
you set up windows:
a shutter turned to mulch
I stack and order books
you lay straw matting
arrange the pictures of the dead
April 3 2015: Caribbean Memory Project
Caribbean memory is held in heads
in bellies in hearts in feet
we have nothing to burn
but houses set on stones
cut by ancestors whose names
we cannot know
they burned initials
in the angles of houseframes
a private code
deciphered by demolition
we have nothing to burn
nothing to look at
nothing to see
our cultures fall
April 4 2015: Resurrection
Take wood salvaged from shipwreck
pegged together with hardwood pegs
fitted tight to strengthen with age
and rip it.
History cracks. Wood becomes nostalgia.
The ripper rips. The great blade shoves.
Clapboard bleeds no blood.
Stop the blades. Confront the teeth
and salvage windows, doorknobs,
shutters. Imagine restoration.
But stopping and salvage are not enough.
Desire and imagination are not enough
to rebuild. Thieves take the windows.
The doorknobs disappear.
The real thing comes with angels,
rolled-back stones, myrrh-smeared wrappings,
This one fills a room
with salvage, trappings,
Those who enter laugh. And weep.
April 5 2015: Thoughts on stained glass
Christ Church Cathedral
Services in this building were first held in 1841
—–Easter Sunday service: this apostate
—–glances at the Dean high in the carven pulpit
—–and turns her eyes to the stained glass window
—–which burns with the eastern Easter sun
A stunning feature of the Cathedral:
the East windows which
depict the Crucifixion
—–The cross is grey. The stone of the tomb
—–is grey. (How does one stain glass
—–grey? In different tiles and sizes of grey?
—–How does one choose the shapes, design
—–the leading?) Around the crucifixion the sky
—–bleeds red. The red burns a redder red than skies
—–or roses or even blood. This red lives
—–although the Christ on the cross has died.
—–His mother is swathed in blue and gold.
—–The disciple he loved in sea-green and gold.
—–The skins of each one is conqueror pink.
the Empty Tomb
—–Mary Magdalene’s hair is long and gold
—–like sunshine on a morning sea; her robe
—–slips from her shoulders, red as harlotry.
—–But her shoulders are clad in a white chemise.
—–She kneels. There is plenty of white in this panel.
—–The angel’s robes are white. His wings
—–are white. Her skin is pink; his skin
—–is white. The wrappings spilling from the tomb
—–are white. The sky above is blue and pink. And white.
—–does not draw her eyes; it is a confusion
—–of blue, gold haloes, red robes, a Christ
—–with a face the bruised peach of a martyr
—–a halo the shape and colour of Mary’s hair.
April 6 2015
When we got to the graveyard there were parrots in the trees:
their acrylic green chests swelling and glimmering
as they clattered to one another high, high above us.
Parrots are terribly noisy birds. They clamour
at rest and while flying, sounding like bad tap dancers
on wings, irregular, without rhythm, so loud
one thinks of wooden trays tumbling downstairs.
Their hyperreal beauty: green breasts and red heads and blue tails.
Their gold hard beaks. Their castanet cries.
April 7 2015: Why I love graveyards
It’s not the presence of the dead. No; in-
stead it’s the presence of the trees, these
living, carbon-breathing guardians of our lives.
They grow big here, roots creeping through the earth,
sneaking under stone, crooking graves and cracking them,
fingering the sleeping underground, incarnating them
in wood, in rings, in bark and boughs, in whispers on the wind,
bursts of colour, the red of flowers, the rust of leaves
which fall and rot and sod and feed and fall again.
The leaves feed the earth. The earth
clothes the dead. The dead
feed the trees. The trees
are why I love graveyards.