Monday, May 8, 2017

After Dionne Brand: a glosa

(c) John Robert Lee 2016

after Dionne Brand: a glosa variation

“all I can offer you now though is my brooding hand,
my sodden eyelashes and the like,
these humble and particular things I know,
my eyes pinned to your face.” – Dionne Brand (Inventory)

I must tell you how moved I was
astonished, perhaps like the wind’s castanets in palms
outside my window, like the shak-shak of shells

under the interfering proddings of surf —
how you drew me close, yes, to brimming
over your so-unexpected full-veined

lines that were the archetypal echo
humming under my breath
and, indeed, here you were Brand —

all I can offer you now though is my brooding hand,

parsing your notations, perusing your inventory
of our blasted days, Aleppo now
and then Nice and yesterday Orlando

tomorrow Laventille again, Trench Town recurrent
Richmond Hill impossible to forget —
ossuaries, yes, of failed states and their politricks

babies broken on beaches, Mediterranean
drowned in overladen caravels
our islands’ doomed alleys mocking

my sodden eyelashes and the like —

exhausting, these post-modern certainties
no truth, no meaning, no author
no beauty I suppose in the old songs of remembering

upon drum, string and bones
dimpled laugh of the old woman who loves you
long arms of the dancer from San Fernando

sacramental light rimming the ends of sunsets
languid cruising of scissor-tailed seabirds
through our horizons, reading a fine poet from Toronto —

these humble and particular things I know,

add thresholds of jalousied doorways I crossed
pursuing mystery love, drawn even then by the echo
quivering on metronomes of evening softnesses

to find faith waiting in lines of dread-locked canticles
pointing couplets of dark sayings
terrible chapters of mighty prophecies —

anyway, like some minor April epiphany
am downtown Port of Spain, corner Hart & Abercromby
and you reading, tenderly, at Bocas

my eyes pinned to your face

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