The Caribbean Writer

Freedom City, Homecoming

Marvin E. Williams


Driving down from upstate I read
the landscape’s unfolding pages,
a green book whose welter of nouns
name it, for me in my going
home for this chilling last time,
St. Croix most poetic.
Sights and scents cluster
to sharpen my myopia: cattle
and dung cohere to form
Annaly deformed only by memory;
aging barns whose awnings flap
in the flung wind recall broken
windmills devoid of their pain;
smokestacks in crosswinds moko jumbie
to mime coconut palms without mask
on Fort Frederik beach;
the goats, the sheep grazing
to give texture to winter coats
become a hot field at Prosperity
But to move downstate is to move
down to an awe more stark than that
pastoral blossom which prickles
the muse’s skin each spring;
and as the bucolic images recede
into gloss and concrete,
I concede
that Home cannot ante-up to meet
my memory or my need.

But, approaching home, for a startled moment
the zoom lens of the plane’s window lies
like all cameras must in their subtractions,
and the nouns again name themselves
using the familiarity of nicknames
to placate memory; but then
the lens pauses for additions,
and one realizes that no intimate
nightmare could have whispered that
sight would weild such cleavers
to butcher nostalgia, the vain reflex
of our needs. So my unwelcoming feet
mourn and drag their hearse past the drying
market whose concrete stalls attract
without gloss barflies on break from bars
which spawn in Town’s corners
like cockroaches. Ruffled head youths
graying too swiftly from private
shocks of life’s cattleprod
wander spastic like battered shoots
in a hurricane’s (Hugo’s?) grip and
shake to swell our bourgeoning
gross domestic product.
Friends, frozen in memory’s unyielding ice,
crack the melting ice and crawl
out of their delighted rock caves
to become animated hosts
who rote “Glad you come home. Tis nice.”
A zombie in their world, I spot ghosts
of sincerity in their welcome; and I’m quick
enough to know they don’t mean to be ironic.
Yet their too baited hellos all
wear a jig that hopes to hook
me, guilt’s newest fish,
on their pound tested lines.
But wading in the shallows to satiate a wish
for the fellowship of small fries,
I do not bother to look
at the sharpen razor flies
attached to the lines; like a wrenchman I bite.
Deftly the fishers of working men reel
me into their stale but addicting, polite
lie about hunger for a hot meal
to warm their revolting bodies.
Surrendering, I see in my surrender
that though my landing lights something tender
in me to provoke a hearth’s pleasantries,
I am but a fish out of water.


Copyright © Marvin E. Williams

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