Tuesday, May 17, 2011

They Will Take My Island

by Adam Sol

            You taught me language, and my profit on’t
            Is I know how to curse.

They will take my island
            if I don’t scorch it to the bones, though
                        to speak truly,

I did not know it was an island
            until they said so.
                        I thought it was the world.

The river-fish would drift
            into my clasp and I would gnaw
                        on their flesh while the gills still

gasped.  It had edges and pleasures
            and dangers.
                        What more is a world?

Then they arrived with their instruments.
            They taught me so much
                        about my home it became

strange as my body became strange
            when it bloomed.
                        They renamed

the birds after their own birds.
            They taught me to sing for them,
                        and to delight in singing for them.

I watched their plots evolve
            as a monkey watches
                        a jaguar wrestle a snake.

Then one day they gathered on the sand,
            and my princess held the hand
                        of a young god,

and I cursed myself for a fool,
            and the drunk bowed his head
                        and a pig was cooked,

and even I was given
            a piece of hoof to suck on.
                        And they sang a song

and climbed onto some felled trees
            and sailed away to heaven,
                        leaving me

to the wordless noises.  I returned
            to my caves and corners
                        but couldn’t remember
what to hide from.  The jaguars
            had been slaughtered.
                        The fish tasted raw.
I sat on a stone
            and tried to imagine
                        what to think of myself.

                        They will return.
            How can they not return
if they spoke of this place so enchantingly?

                        And how can I not try
            to prevent them, now that
I know it is mine?  How can I not resist them

                        with my very teeth,
            or with the perfection
of a purging fire?  Every sunset
                        I ascend the heights
            of my puny kingdom,
and scan the sea for sails.