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I am in the land of iguanas and buzzing heat
of Joh nny Babwah, Ice Cold Coconut
since nineteen,
in the culvert, savannah side,
while the dread with the bandaged thumb hacks my nut
with t he edge of his blade and says,
‘How long you been gone, red man,’
like you losing your skill to suck.’
And how did he find the gap in my tongue
that slip in my language, the twang long gone.
He sell me three mammy apple,
remind me how to eat them,
wait two or three days, till it get soft.
Peel off the husk. But in 24 years
I have forgotten how to keep up with a place
where everything happens at once.
Today I watched my aunt coming
down through the coruscating light of her village;
cumin scent and the water truck, the new road still coming.
At seventy three she takes wise steps, avoids
gulleys and thorns, she only goes to the beach,
she says, when I fly down.
And all of this written from memory.
And all of this made more luminous with distance.
I have lost touch with my own people,
I have forgotten the heat.
And all of this written from memory
and all of this written of an island
which has long ceased to exist
except to the poet on his way east,
pickin g out places and saying :
This h appened here,
that happened there.
In the white heat of mid morning
two iguanas are passing on the hotel wall
To see them I must stay completely still
and then I can see them
between the hibiscus tree.
But if I move too suddenly
or if I reach for a camera,
I turn away
and they are gone.


from Migratory Poets, released May 6, 2015


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