DEREK WAL­COTT TURNS 85

AR­GUABLY OUR NA­TION’S GREAT­EST PROD­UCT, NOBEL LAU­RE­ATE DEREK WAL­COTT THIS WEEK CEL­E­BRATED ANOTHER BIRTH­DAY. FOL­LOW­ING: A POEM DED­I­CATED TO THE RENOWNED AU­THOR, POET AND ARTIST BY ONE OF HIS CEL­E­BRATED AD­MIR­ERS, SUDEEP SEN.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

DRIFT­WOOD

for Derek Wal­cott on his 85th birth­day by Sudeep Sen

1.

Part of the ban­nis­ter-rail­ing is ab­sent in spite of its strong metal-rivet moor­ings.

Ter­mite-eaten, con­sumed by the sea, I can see its woody skele­ton float far­away

among the surf, its salt-scarred coat toss­ing and strug­gling to keep afloat

against the waves’ in­ces­sant lash­ing. There is mu­sic in its dis­ap­pear­ance —

a buoy­ant sym­phony, note-strokes res­ur­rect­ing life,

a new story — his­tory re­stored by re­silient fin­gers of a master artist.

Wheel­chair and weak legs are in­con­se­quen­tial im­ped­i­ments —

his mind spark­ing with elec­tric edge, whiplash wit at its most acer­bic.

There is gen­eros­ity for fam­ily, friends — those who are gone, and re­main —

and thirty new po­ems, an in­tri­cate magic of ekphras­tic love.

Derek Wal­cott

2.

In the front gar­den fac­ing the same sea with Pi­geon Is­land on the hori­zon’s left,

lies a clus­ter of wind-eroded oval rocks — their shapes mimic a lost egret’s nest

or a bal­le­rina’s curved arch — a stone-memo­rial for a close friend.

3.

The drift­wood is now out of sight — part of his house do­nated to the sea —

in grat­i­tude the sea sings a rau­cous song,

folded cu­mu­lonim­bus echo in syn­chronic­ity — a sound­scape

ab­sorb­ing his com­mand­ment:

At the end of this sen­tence, rain will be­gin.

Sudeep Sen (born 1964) is an award win­ning In­dian English poet and ed­i­tor liv­ing in London and New Delhi.

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