for Wilson Harris


Girls wear on their wrists the gold

That Raleigh dreamed of

El Dorado glints in your eyes

Hints of the water between gravel

And pan

Dust of a ground mountain’s Dream. Men have died angry,

Screaming the guts of their power, lusting the bright

stone. History drowned your flesh here in a mesh

Of brown rivers: the pirates have gone;

The pilots remain on the rivers: watching

Rocks, hearing the cataract whisper

And crack. The gold remains hidden:

The vision of guilt driven deep into under-

Ground silts. But the tips of the roots.

Reaching light, licking green, nourishing

Features of vein, leaves and forest,

Give lips to the secrets of fear.

In the secrets of forests,

Glint falling on leaf, birds’ harvests

Of song, flowers’ tendrils nourishing

The gloom, bloom of blossom, shoots

Of odours in the damp plunder

Of sting, butterfly’s wing hidden

Under sudden rushes of sound, there comes the whisper

Of footsteps, eyes of the past watching

Our journey over the soft fallen bone

Of liana, obstinate thickets. The eyes wear flesh

Rounded by memory out of bright sockets of history;

Their lips silenced by time, conqueror’s dust,

Recover their teeth and their consonants; vowels of

Angry Breath break from their lame

Wilted faces; babel

Of leaves cry their warnings the tribe dies

Whose faith of green crumples; love

Of the good soil humbled by its gold.