The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
Broad sun-stoned beaches.
A green river.
After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that gray vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History.
There are so many islands!
As many islands as the stars at night
on that branched tree from which meteors are shaken
like falling fruit around the schooner Flight.
A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
There is a shattered palm
on this fierce shore,
its plumes the rusting helm-
et of a dead warrior.
The last leaves fell like notes from a piano
and left their ovals echoing in the ear;
with gawky music stands, the winter forest
looks like an empty orchestra, its lines
Night, the black summer, simplifies her smells
into a village; she assumes the impenetrable
musk of the negro, grows secret as sweat,
So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won't come out.