By Vladimir Lucien

My great-grandfather taught the locals
how to make good, hard-core cement,
how to turn a forest grey with a few
scoops swooping over the left shoulder,
how to tame the low jungle of stones
and sand and lime, how to flatten things
in time. Whole cities splattered
behind him, tossed over the cold shoulder
of unfortunate decades: savannahs of stone
and brick, thick forests of walls, vineyards
of barbed wire, the stiff current of promenades.
Nothing swayed in the breeze where he had been,
just cities, stiff like straightened negro hair,
nothing but his shovel, making its own wind,
flinging grey waves over his shoulder as if it was
some distant horizon. None of the cities,
the buildings, would ever be his, but he
never looked back long enough to know.
He was content with a shovel, sunlight
weeping in his arm-pits, and a little cement,
that powdered his body at the end of the day,
hardening his heart, breaking him apart
on the small sidewalk of his dreams.


The Caribbean Review of Books, November 2011

Vladimir Lucien is a writer from St Lucia.