“Derek Still” by Laurence Breiner

ore legar populi – Ovid

The pages of the sea still turn
And the leaves of the trees.
The feathers of birds still rustle in the wind.
But there is a stillness, a muting, something missed.
Where is the voice that tolled out the names in the sea,
Intoned the oracles scratched on the Sybil’s leaves,
And chronicled the cities fled or flown to?

Take up the volume; turn up the volume.
Read him to your child, your lover,
To strangers encountered,
To your father who is too much alone.
The lost voice, reanimate,
Reanimates the voices of all the lost,
The sound of a shot of rum,
The harsh gossip of the almond
and the cedar’s singing,
The hoe’s thud into earth, the oarlock’s creak,
The slow, echoing topple of the bois canot,
And the bursting youth of every dolphin – every one.



Laurence Breiner is Professor of English at Boston University. He the author of An Introduction to West Indian Poetry and Black Yeats: Eric Roach and the Politics of Caribbean Poetry as well as numerous articles on Caribbean literature. His poetry has appeared in Paris Review, Partisan Review, and Agni.

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