“Constant Spring,” by Lorna Goodison, appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of MQR.
Here you are still doing the island’s housekeeping,
Scour and rinse out the mouth of a river
bind weeds and refuse clogged.
You’re a pin-up girl in a one-piece bathing suit
I saw you sew yourself; it is ruched and tucked
like a washboard across your belly.
Your wet let-out hair cascades down your back.
You dive in and breast-stroke the familiar
long-lap river rushing past
your old childhood home all but gone to ruin;
captured by pirate cousin. You backstroke
float and butterfly into Lucea Harbour
where I’d left you in the Bardo days after death.
I’d clung to your capable hand losing warmth
as we travelled to reach the Western shore.
You stepped into the deep and embraced big sea
waves; turned back to me on land and said,
“You cannot come with me yet.”
Then off you swam. I set off for home, feet barely
touching ground till I reached Constant Spring,
where I lifted my eyes to the hills.
Go long you said, and be yourself.
Image: Peche, Dagobert. Detail of silk textile sample. Ca. 1920. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.