[from Derek Walcott's The Fortunate Traveler, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1981]
[excerpt from "Map of the New World"]
At the end of this sentence, rain will begin.
At the rain's edge, a sail.
Slowly the sail will lose sight of islands;
into a mist will go the belief of harbors
of an entire race.
The ten-years war is finished.
Helen's hair, a gray cloud.
Troy, a white ashpit
by the drizzling sea.
The drizzle tightens like the strings of a harp.
A man with clouded eyes picks up the rain
and plucks the first line of the Odyssey.
[II] THE COVE
Resound it, surge: the legend of Yseult
in languorous detonations of your surf.
I've smuggled in this bleached prow, rustling shoreward
to white sand guarded by fierce manchineel,
read by the shadow of a frigate hawk.
This inlet's a furnace.
The leaves flash silver signals to the waves.
Far from the curse of government by race,
I turn these leaves — this book's seditious fault —
to feel her skeins of sea mist cross my face,
and catch, on the wind's mouth, a taste of salt.
The Fortunate Traveler.