Guest poem sent in by Aseem
(Poem #1953) from Midsummer
The jet bores like a silverfish through volumes of cloud - clouds that will keep no record of where we have passed, nor the sea's mirror, nor the coral busy with its own culture; they aren't doors of dissolving stone, but pages in a damp culture that come apart. So a hole in their parchment opens, and suddenly, in a vast dereliction of sunlight, there's that island known to the traveller Trollope, and the fellow traveller Froude, for making nothing. Not even a people. The jet's shadow ripples over green jungles as steadily as a minnow through seaweed. Our sunlight is shared by Rome and your white paper, Joseph. Here, as everywhere else, it is the same age. In cities, in settlements of mud, light has never had epochs. Near the rusty harbor around Port of Spain bright suburbs fade into words - Maraval, Diego Martin - the highways long as regrets, and steeples so tiny you couldn't hear their bells, nor the sharp exclamation of whitewashed minarets from green villages. The lowering window resounds over pages of earth, the canefields set in stanzas. Skimming over an ocher swamp like a fast cloud of egrets are nouns that find their branches as simply as birds. It comes too fast, this shelving sense of home - canes rushing the wing, a fence; a world that still stands as the trundling tires keep shaking and shaking the heart.
When I saw that you were running a flying theme, this was the first poem I thought of. It is a poem that evokes so perfectly, for me, the experience of being on a flight - the familiar cycle of staring out of the window, reading the newspaper for a bit, thinking about distance and the world, looking down again, seeing the tiny signs of human civilisation get closer and closer as the flight descends and we come in to land. Walcott describes all of that in lines at once ponderous and lyrical - that air of something restlessly inventive but also classically ode-like that he renders so effortlessly. There are several phrases in here that are permanently inscribed in my head ("The jet's shadow / ripples over green jungles as steadily as a minnow / through seaweed") and the last eight lines are sheer genius. I could go on and on about the clever, clever way that Walcott weaves the metaphor of a book together with the experience of flight, but I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to suggest that you read the last lines of this poem again, and experience once more that sensation of coming closer and closer to the earth, the acceleration you feel an illusion, your heart waiting for that final thwack of the wheels that will tell you that you're finally back. Aseem [Links] Biography: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1992/walcott-bio.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Walcott Nice essay on Walcott and his work: http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Walcott.html