So here goes nothin’. Sharing poems by week. Understand (1) they are rough drafts and (2) they come from who knows where.
So let’s start it off with the April 1 offering:
On Smelling Yellow Elder for the First Time
I heard a wasp humming dozy
on the flower, drunk with nectar, bumble-heavy.
A wasp, nosing deep in plain flowers. The flowers
tremble in wind-breath, yellow
as sunshine, bright like butter,
hardy as billygoats, Their roots suck
water from tarmac. From limestone.
From rock and from sand. The wind
spreads new bushes like weeds.
Yellow elder, nation-flower,
not made for a woman’s ear like hibiscus,
or picture postcards like the poinciana,
or for a lady’s table like sprays of bougainvillea,
but small, soft and golden, tumbling in breezes.
I know you now. I have learned the sweet
scent of you, yellow elder:
lemon, and milk, and vanilla.
This is the day of betrayal.
This is the day of the garden.
In my city, it’s the day
(three days after death
by whirlwind in the north of the country)
of swept skies, poured sunshine,
peaceful traffic on grey-tarmac streets.
The traffic may be peaceful
but it’s still traffic. The smart driver knows
how to drive around it. This city
has pockets: on a map, straight square corners
laid out by rulers, like tables, like ladders,
but on the ground narrow as cart-roads,
shared with pedestrians.
I start the zigzag home: left, right,
left and right again, veering northward
then eastward, cutting corners
brighter than hotels, greener than Christmas.
To be Bahamian is to know navigation,
to journey by reading the colour of water.
Even the urban’s a sailor, tacking home
But pay no attention:
reefs and shoals find your vessel.