Here, where I was born, a fragile darkness consumed the wooded hills

and mountain tussocks clung to the edges of a rain-soaked world.

Rivers twisted in the landscape’s womb as trees

bore down with all their strength. Human shadows traversed

the blue-black silence, the unsleeping nights.

I followed their footprints

 

and burst into wheat fields, thick with copper-plated sunshine.

I heard the shrugging sighs of draught horses as they turned the sacred soil,

felt the hunger of slashing scythes. I saw bronzed daughters

gather the harvest, fill wine cups in the shade of trees awash with wild honey.

I hid when

 

conquerors and emperors, battle angry and triumphant, raised their swords

and polished shields in those same fields. They marched to the rhythm

of foreign tongues, history revealed in unfurled maps and raised flags.

Down at the harbour,

 

I saw ships unload at wharves where sailors staggered ashore

and fell into the arms of waiting whores. In tides of laughter

they discovered the points and pains of pleasure.

Between forgotten wars,

 

cities claimed the marshlands, homes lit up in wonderment,

shooting electricity around the world, unbearably bright, as the homeless

lost their voices in cardboard shelters and concrete car parks cleaved the fields.

But then,

 

the changing winds and hurried storms pounded. Rising seas swallowed the cities

and the earth grew indigo cold as the last orange of the sun was crushed.

I tucked my memories away in the mercy of darkness

 

here, where I was born.

—KV Martins

Note: ‘as the last orange of the sun was crushed’ is from CK Stead’s poem “Pictures in a Gallery Undersea” (1959) which, in part, inspired this poem.

 

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Members Poems, Uncategorized