The Castaway by Derek Walcott

The starved eye devours the seascape for the morsel

Of a sail.

The horizon threads it infinitely. 

Action breeds frenzy. I lie,

Sailing the ribbed shadow of a palm,

Afraid lest my own footprint multiply.

Blowing sand thin as smoke,

Bored shifts its dunes.

The surf tires of its castles like a child.

The salt green vine yellow trumpet-flower,

A net inches across nothing.

Nothing; the rage with which the sandfly’s head is filled.

Pleasures of an old man:

Morning: contemplative evacuation, considering

The dried leaf, nature’s plan.

In the sun, the dog’s faces

crusts, whitens like coral.

We end in earth, from earth began.

In our own entrails, genesis.

If I listen I can hear the polyp build,

The silence thwanged by two waves of the sea,

Cracking a sea-louse, I make thunder split.

Godlike, annihilating godhead, art

And self, I abandon

Dead metaphor: the almond’s leaf – like heart,

The ripe brain rotting like a yellow nut 


Its babel of sea – lice, sandfly and maggot,

That green wine bottle’s gospel choked with sand,

labelled, a wrecked ship,

Clenched seaward nailed and white as a man’s hand.

Read also: Watermaid by Christopher Okigbo

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