What others do

really should have little bearing on what one does, unless what others do is instructive.

I’m finding Rik’s way of introducing his NaPo instructive. He doesn’t just post poems, but he gives them a context. I thought perhaps I could learn from that, provide some background, thicken ground in which they’re planted a little, if only for my own edification down the line (like when I come to revise).

Well, let’s see. April is a great, if stressful, month in Nassau. The weather’s mostly grand, to begin with. People who live up north may imagine that there should be nothing to complain about in a place like The Bahamas, but they should know that for most of us, while northerners dread the coming of winter, we dread the coming of summer. It wasn’t always thus, and for children summer is the best thing of all — children and people still in school can spend their summers at the beach, swimming through all the heat and never catching a chill, not sitting in traffic in something designed for industrial-style baking. Children don’t have to worry about electricity bills during times of wars in oil-land, and so don’t have to juggle the need to dry the sweat off one’s body in front (or beneath) a fan, or better yet, in a room that is air-conditioned. Children and students don’t need to be able to move from their beds; they can lie there and sweat and read books or write poems, while grown-up people have to get up, get dressed, cook (aagh!), or clean (sweat dripping behind them) or put on elegance (three layers of it for men, clinging fabric for women).

But I digress. April is breezy. Easter almost always whips the sea alive, and it’s the last time we see whitecaps till November, unless of course there’s a hurricane (and then we’d rather not see the whitecaps at all). There are days that are hot, but mostly they’re not steamy like the summer; the humidity is beginning to rise, but April comes at the end of the dry season and brings baked dry roads and bush fire.

For me, April is a month of travel. I have numerous business engagements inside and outside the country. I get to travel to other islands in the Bahamian archipelago, which is an inspiration, but I also get to travel throughout the Caribbean. Good fodder for poems. Bad time for writing them.

So there.

“Eleuthera” was inspired by a trip there. The poem could’ve gone on, but the sheep were real, and puzzling (I could not for the life of me figure out what they were eating. Of course, sheep are the dumbest creatures alive, and so they may have lemminged their way out to the rocks and were stuck licking salt off the honeycomb and cutting their lips and tongues) and so I ended with them. There are other poems wanting to come from that trip.

“Centreville” was inspired by visits to places during my search for new office-space (fyi as yet unresolved). The house in question is the proposed site of the central National Museum. We’ve got several little museums, like the one in which I saw the Henrietta Marie exhibition (poem here) but this would house the National Collection. “Freeport I” was inspired by my experience crossing a road, hearing a chorus of birds, and not being able to see where they were — they were hidden high in a fig tree, invisible, but noisy. “Nassau Harbour” is only one attempt to capture that sight — the vision of the harbour on a fresh spring day. It stops your heart no matter how often you see it. “Liminality” calls upon one of my favourite topics in anthropology, that in-between state that occurs everywhere in human behaviour, but that happens most consciously in rites of passage; and “Nassau Spring Song” is kind of reworking of the only sonnet I’ve written that I think might actually work, found here.


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