by Sudeep Sen

Castries, St. Lucia
For Derek Walcott on his 85th birthday

At the end of this sentence, rain will begin.
— D. W., “Archipelago,” Map of the New World


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

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

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.


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.


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.

Published on August 20, 2015