Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Nesta

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Nesta

Article excerpt

Jamaica, 1996

The storm's first bullets pit the sand

this side of the wrinkling wave-line; the island,

as I remember it, drums in rain, a barefoot

beach guard hurrying beneath a sheet

of corrugated tin, or the light that followed,

a blush of watery blues and yellows

that drained off past the ocean's rim. We stalked

the grounds of Point Village: the cobbled walks,

a bonfire smoldering on the bulwark, the tree frog

we never saw but heard above the bug-

filled racket-and that was all I'd known of you,

I thought, a voice like weeping where bamboo

clacked in wind, a wisp of smoke,

torchlight dappling the jetty's granite blocks.

In Negril we were duped and hustled

for a week, but even there, in the muscled,

blood-veined face of the bauxite mine,

in the coconuts we drank with straws-too green,

lobotomized-something more, some quiver

of a man, of fingers at the strings of your guitar.

You were there in the musk and bustle of the market:

a smell of curried goat, the skin on a bullet-

wood drum, there, later, when the storm spread

like a bruise along the coast, dark clouds

scudding across the smoke-grey chop

of the horizon; I watched a line of raindrops

run the ribs of a palm frond, a far hill suffused

with light. …

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