Driftwood

August 20, 2015

Castries, St. Lucia
           For Derek Walcott on his 85th birthday

At the end of this sentence, rain will begin.
            — D. W., "Archipelago," Map of the New World

   1.

   Part of the banister railing is absent
in spite of its strong metal-rivet moorings.

   Termite-eaten, consumed by the sea,
I can see its woody skeleton float far away

   among the surf, its salt-scarred coat
tossing and struggling to keep afloat

   against the waves' incessant lashing.
There is music in its disappearance —

   a buoyant symphony,
note-strokes resurrecting life,

   a new story—history restored
by resilient fingers of a master artist.

   Wheelchair and weak legs
are inconsequential impediments —

   his mind sparking with electric edge,
whiplash wit at its most acerbic.

   There is generosity for family, friends —
those who are gone, and remain —

   and thirty new poems,
an intricate magic of ekphrastic love.

   2.

   In the front garden facing the same sea
with Pigeon Island on the horizon's left,

   lies a cluster of wind-eroded oval rocks —
their shapes mimic a lost egret's nest

   or a ballerina's curved arch —
a stone-memorial for a close friend.

   3.

   The driftwood is now out of sight —
part of his house donated to the sea —

   in gratitude the sea sings
a raucous song,

   folded cumulonimbus echo
in synchronicity — a soundscape

   absorbing his commandment:
At the end of this sentence, rain will begin.