Poetry Friday: Derek Walcott



Europa 

The full moon is so fierce that I can count the
coconuts' cross-hatched shade on bungalows,
their white walls raging with insomnia.
The stars leak drop by drop on the tin plates
of the sea almonds, and the jeering clouds
are luminously rumpled as the sheets.
The surf, insatiably promiscuous,
groans through the walls; I feel my mind
whiten to moonlight, altering that form
which daylight unambiguously designed,
from a tree to a girl's body bent in foam;
then, treading close, the black hump of a hill,
its nostrils softly snorting, nearing the 
naked girl splashing her naked breasts with silver.
Both would have kept their proper distance still, 
if the chaste moon hadn't swiftly drawn the drapes
of a dark cloud, coupling their shapes.

She teases with those flashes, yes, but once
you yield to human horniness, you see
through all that moonshine what they really were,
those gods as seed-bulls, gods as rutting swans
an overheated farmhand's literature.
Who ever saw her pale arms hook his horns, 
her thighs clamped tight in their deep-plunging ride, 
watched, in the hiss of the exhausted foam,
her white flesh constellate to phosphorous
as in salt darkness beast and woman come?
Nothing is there, just as it always was, 
but the foam's wedge to the horizon-light,
then, wire-thin, the studded armature, 
like drops still quivering on his matted hide,
the hooves and horn-points anagrammed in stars.




© Derek Walcott, The Fortunate Traveller, 1981 (extract from Selected Poems, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)



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