The Sea as Poetry

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like all  who live on small islands

I must always be remembering the sea

Frank Collymore

Hymn of the Sea

At around 2:00 pm yesterday afternoon I found myself on the beach just killing time until my wife got off work and thinking of a post to write for National Poetry Month. It’s weird, I live on an island just 166 sq miles and hardly ever see the beach. Yet there I was, on a sunny Saturday afternoon standing just above the waterline.

There is no place like the beach, especially when the tourist season starts winding down and the only thing to be heard is the gentle hiss of the waves along the sand.

Two poems instantly come to mind; Frank Collymore’s Hymn of the Sea and Anthony Kellman’s Bajan:

You are the sea, a child impatient with your own castle

that melts like some dethroned waxen god,

while your image keeps wringing and wringing the heart

I was bummed that I didn’t come prepared to take a swim, but when Lisa and I caught the bus down to the south coast in the morning, there were puddles at the side of the road and the sky was grey, so I assumed it was probably going to rain. It did sprinkle a little in the late morning, but it never rained.

For me the sea is poetry. Not just because it is powerful and beautiful, but because it also has secrets that can be discovered if you’re paying attention. like the old canon resting on the beach. The last time I walked down that same stretch of beach I saw  a part of the canon, but the tide was in so I couldn’t get a good look at it, but yesterday I could walk right up to it without getting my jeans soaked.

Not far from where I was standing is where St. Anne’s Fort would have been established 1705. Now that space is taken up by the Barbados Defence Force and the Coast Guard. a lot of the area above the beach, known as the Barbados Garrison, was labelled a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the old canons can be seen displayed around the Garrison.

However, there is some ambiguity, elements seem to shift depending on the perspective.

It’s strange that a part of my country’s history would be resting on the sand behind some beach houses for tourists. Maybe it was just a bit of decoration for one of the houses, someone taking into consideration the proximity of the Garrison and trying to be clever. Then it broke off from somewhere and rolled down the beach into the water.

I did see some miniature ornamental cannons while walking on the beach.

When it got close to the time Lisa was supposed to finish I left, I thought about Collymore’s poem and promised myself that I’ve got to go swimming before the Easter weekend is over.

Kwame

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