The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

From 'The Prodigal'
By Derek Walcott


The tidal motion of refugees, not the flight of wild geese,
the faces in freight cars, haggard and coal-eyed,
particularly the peaked stare of children,
the huge bundles crossing bridges, axles creaking
as if joints and bones were audible, the dark stain
spreading on maps whose shapes dissolve their frontiers
the way that corpses melt in a lime-pit or
the bright mulch of autumn is trampled into mud,
and the smoke of a cypress signals Sachsenhausen,
those without trains, without mules or horses,
those who have the rocking chair and the sewing machine
heaped on a human cart, a waggon without horses
for horses have long galloped out of their field
back to the mythology of mercy, back to the cone
of the orange steeple piercing clouds over the lindens
and the stone bells of Sunday over the cobbles,
those who rest their hands on the sides of their carts
as if they were the flanks of mules, and the women
with flint faces, with glazed cheekbones, with eyes
the colour of duck-ponds glazed over with ice,
for whom the year has only one season, one sky:
that of rooks flapping like torn umbrellas,
all have been reduced into a common language,
the homeless, the province-less, to the incredible memory
of apples and clean streams, and the sound of milk
filling the summer churns, where are you from,
what was your district, I know that lake, I know the beer,
and its inns, I believed in its mountains,
now there is a monstrous map that is called Nowhere
and that is where we're all headed, behind it
there is a view called the Province of Mercy,
where the only government is that of the apples
and the only army the wide banners of barley
and its farms are simple, and that is the vision
that narrows in the irises and the dying
and the tired whom we leave in ditches
before they stiffen and their brows go cold
as the stones that have broken our shoes,
as the clouds that grow ashen so quickly after danw
over palm and poplar, in the deceitful sunrise
of this, your new century.


I did nothing but chores, so I have nothing exciting to report. Well, I did sleep kind of late because I had all three cats in bed with me, thus forcing me to contort into the kind of positions in which it is possible to sleep only if you have three cats in bed with you, but nothing besides that! I spent some time looking at The Old Bailey Online just because it's so cool that it's there (and after seeing the Sweeney Todd extras, I was really curious to see all the murder and robbery transcripts, not to mention Oscar Wilde's indecency trial. All of which makes me think of that father with the daughter in the basement in Austria -- if The X-Files had done that as a story, I would have said it was unrealistic and vile (I did say that about "Home"). There's no prison terrible enough for that guy. Ugh.

Red foot tortoises from Central America. They have a 50-year life span.

Larger cousins, African spurred tortoises, which eat cacti and sub-Saharan grasses and can live to be 80.

Much smaller Russian tortoises, which live all over Asia and hibernate more than half the year. They can live to be nearly 100!

The local Eastern painted turtle also hibernates but their life spans are only 30-40 years.

This is a black throat monitor lizard, a carnivore from Africa that can inflate its body when intimidated or angry.

A blue-tongue skink from Australia, an omnivore that occasionally bites fingers as they look like something edible.

And a bearded dragon, also from Australia, hoping for a big yummy worm to go with his veggies.

After he finished his homework, older son wanted to watch the Tenth Doctor Who devil episodes ("The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit") because he was in an Ood mood, so that's what we did tonight...Doc and Rose threatening to become domestic and the awesome black hole. I'm so relieved Obama publicly told Wright where to stick it -- I have zero tolerance for anti-Semitic bigotry, I don't care if you're blathering in the name of Jesus or liberation theology or some massive US conspiracy theory. And I have never given a crap about Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana, having boys with no tolerance for her or her music, but she'd seen the photos before she left the shoot and knew exactly how they made her look, and she is now trying to have it both ways looking sexy in Vanity Fair while claiming she didn't mean to look's her prerogative to make money titillating pedophiles, but the one of her sprawled all over daddy with her belly exposed is more disturbing than the photo with the sheet and every adult handler knew exactly the messages they would send. Again, ugh.

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