Sentinel Poetry (Online) #36 – November 2005

Online Magazine Monthly…since December 2002. ISSN 1479-425X




Meghan Casey


The Colony

Meghan Casey           


            Who can fathom you

                     but an explorer who plants flags like trees, expecting them to grow root?


Or perhaps, a squint-eyed cartographer could contour your body

With his steady, unshirking hands,

                           lined blue with ink

                                    like the tributaries of the Amazon?


I would be Stanley,

                         at the very least, Livingstone,

                         in your African mists

                               parting jungle vines like a cascade of mermaid hair,

                               gazing with a colonist’s disdain

                                                at village squalor pruned in the sun.



                             In the afternoon heat, I try to decipher a basking serpent.

                                        I hope to read its scaled coil like a clock.



After a few months, I build myself an ingenuous mechanical menagerie

                              of square-wheeled bicycles

                                                  and airplanes winged with palm branches,

                                                  but mostly

                                                           of arrow-fisted clocks that cannot tell time.

                                      I wind them everyday and set them hissing and flailing,

                                               gilt gears glittering with snake-eyed menace.      


               Feeling industrious one day, I plate the hut roofs with tin

                             the rain stings against them pleasantly

                                     until the whole thing falls in.


                              Parrots cackle in the canopy. 


                   They appall me with their blazon, devil-pitched tongues,

                                                                        baby pink in hue.

                   Garish green rebels,

                               they shriek curses at me that only the natives understand.

                               I ask them,

                   “What are those damned birds saying?”

                                 but they just grin and nod their heads, 

                                                                 “Yes, yes!”


                                  I want to return home to canaries, tea and tailors,

                                          the chime of a clock at noon

                                         everything at right angles-

                                      but I am still searching for you here.


                                      Under the tyrant sun in this exiled land,

                                                 I will bend you to my hand.



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