12 Notes For A Light Song of Light

i)…..A light song of light is not sung
………….in the light; what would be the point?
………….A light song of light swells up in dark
………….times, in wolf time and knife time,
………….in knuckle and blood times; it hums
………….a small tune in daytime, but saves
………….its full voice for midnight.
.
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ii)…..A light song of light spits from its mouth
………….the things that occasionally gather:
………….the dull taste of morning and cobwebs
………….(you would not believe their thickness),
………….and the strangest word—caranapa
………….so much larger than its letters, a Maroon
………….of a word, and a word so silent
………….it is the opposite of song.
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iii)…..A light song of light occasionally stutters.
………….This is par for the course.
………….There is no need for concern
………….no need for bed-rest or vitamins
………….no need to take your song in
………….to the song specialist for treatment.
.
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iv)…..But were you to take your light song in
………….for a thorough checking-up, a blood screening,
………….you might discover your song has cancer,
………….HIV, diabetes, is going blind in its left eye.
………….You may not have strength to sing
………….your song for this season or the next.
………….But a light song of light cannot be
………….held back. It cannot wait on health
………….or its perfect occasion.
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v)…..A light song of light meditates in the morning,
………….does yoga once a week, accepts the law
………….of karma. It may not worship in a synagogue
………….it may not worship in a balmyard
………….but still it believes in a clean heart
………….in righteous living and the general
………….avoidance of pork. It would like to touch
………….your feet, pronounce a blessing
………….before you go:
………………Jah guide and protect always.
………………Selah.
………………Ashe.
………………Ashe.
.
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vi)…..A light song of light will summon daffodils,
………….bluebells and strawberries, humming birds;
………….will summon silver, the shine of sequins,
………….the gold of rings—and the dreadful luminosity
………….of everything we had been told to close
………….our eyes to (because they had no sharp
………….edges, because they could not be wielded
………….against our enemies) will be called back into service—
………….retired weapons that have no memory of war,
………….or that they could fight, or that they could win.
.
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vii)…..A light song of light is not reggae,
………….not calypso, not mento or zouk,
………….not a common song from a common island,
………….not a song whose trail you have followed for umpteen years,
………….a song trembled from the single tooth of
………….the Singerman—the Singerman who had beat his tune
………….out from a sheet of zinc
………….and how it surprised you, the thin bellies
………….from which music could be drawn.
………….You did not know then that his song came
………….at the price of history and cane
………….and the terrible breadth of oceans: a price
………….which, even now, you cannot fully consider.
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viii)…..A light song of light don’t talk
………….the way I talk most days.
………….To tell the truth I never know at first
………….what this country was going do me—
………….how I would start hearing myself
………….through the ears of others,
………….how I would start putting words on a scale
………….and exchange the ones I think in
………….for the ones I think you will understand,
………….till it become natural, this slow careful way
………….of talking, this talk like the walk of a man
………….who find himself on a street he never born to,
………….who trying hard to look like nothing
………….not bothering him. And maybe nothing wrong
………….with a false talk like that, but that
………….is no way to sing.
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ix)…..A light song of light is not understood completely
………….not in the moment it is sung
………….and maybe not for months after.
………….But it sings with a faith common
………….in those who never lost their accents
………….who talk their talk knowing, tssst
………….you may not catch everything but chu—
………….you will catch enough.
………….And if you don’t catch nothing
………….then something wrong with your ears—
………….they been tuned to de wrong frequency.
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x)…..A light song of light tells knock-knock jokes
………….and tells them in order
………….to illustrate the most heart-breaking points.
………….It is not that the song
………….does not know the weight of sadness;
………….it is not that the song
………….does not take things seriously;
………….it is not that the song
………….needs to write one hundred times on a chalkboard—
………….I will be heavy,
………….I will be heavy, I will be heavy, I will be heavy…
.
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xi)…..A light song of light is distant cousin
………….to songs we sing in bath tubs,
………….is related then, by accident, to water
………….and to soap and to square white tiles
………….that bounce sound one from another,
………….is related also to rain and to blankets
………….and to the little things we say
………….to get us through the hurricane.
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xii)…..A light song of light says thank you
………….to the paper it is written on—
………….this most solid evidence of its existence
………….however thin. Sometimes though,
………….a light song of light wishes it were written
………….on material even thinner, the shaft of morning
………….that slides through a shut window.
………….A light song of light believes nothing
………….is so substantial as light, and
………….that light is unstoppable,
………….and that light is all.
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•••

is from Jamaica but presently teaches in a cold country. His next collection of poetry, A Light Song of Light, is published by Carcanet this July. A new novel, the Last Warner Woman, is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, also in July.)

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