Ishion Hutchinson

The Garden

The streetlights shed pearls that night,
above the hot mint, the sky quivered, a man
heard his true love’s name, the stray dogs
ran but did not bark at the strange shadows
that night, the Minister of All could not sleep,
mosquitoes swarmed around his net,
his portrait and his pitcher and drinking glass,
the flags stiffened on the embassy building but
did not fall when the machine guns
flared and reminded that stars were there
inside the decrepit towns, in shanty-zinc holes,
staring at the fixed constellation, another
asthmatic whirl of pistons passed,
the chandelier fell, the carpet sparkled,
flames burst into the lantana bushes, the stone
horse whinnied by the bank’s marble entrance,
large cranes with searchlights lit
the poincianas, a quiet flamboyance, struck
with the fever of children’s laughter, then
all at once, the cabbage palms and the bull
hoof trees shut their fans,
the harbour grew empty and heavy,
the sea was sick and quiet, the royal
palms did not salute when the jeeps roamed up
the drive way and circled the fountain,
the blue mahoe did not bow and the lignum
vitae shed purple bugles, but did not
surrender, the homeless did not run, but the dead
were in flight, they flew in a silver
stream that night, their silk hair
thundered and their heels crushed
the bissy nuts and ceramic roofs,
the night had the scent of cut grass
sprayed with poison, the night smelled
of bullets, the moon did not hide
that night
the prisoners prayed in their bunkers,
the baby drank milk as its mother slept,
and by the window its father
could not part the curtains.

Ishion Hutchinson
“The Garden” first appeared in The Caribbean Review of Books, July 2010.