Monday, November 15, 2010

They Will Take My Island

by Paul Vermeersch

after Arshile Gorky

My loves are coming. Whether on a raft, or a frigate,
or a longboat with its serpent figurehead,
its sails billowed by whirlwinds, they are coming to my island. 

She is with them, the love of my childhood.
She was a foal lying silently in brown leaves.
She will be something different now,
a stranger to my island, and yet the leaves
are already withering, already falling to the earth in preparation.

They must navigate whirlpools and crushing straits,
but still my loves are coming in a cold white spray. 
They make for my island, and the love of my youth is with them.

She was a young woman in a field of honeybees.
Their droning was loud, but they would not sting her.
The field and her hair are one, and the field 
goes behind her like a floral train.
I can see her only like this, and not as she might be now,
in accordance with a pact made long ago.

All my loves are coming to my island. The first love
of my manhood is with them.
She had the head of a boar and a girl's quick laugh.
And the second love of my manhood, a scarlet ibis, 
cruel as a lizard’s eye, is with them too,
but she might turn back before they reach my island.

And the love of my life is with them. 
She will introduce herself in my native tongue, 
saying, You need not fear me,
and she will lead all my terrible loves
to this shore, and together they will take my island.