Photo by ULF ANDERSEN
by Derek Walcott
I, with legs crossed along the daylight, watch
The variegated fists of clouds that gather over
The uncouth features of this, my prone island.
Meanwhile the steamers which divide horizons prove
In tourist booklets, behind ardent binoculars;
Found in the blue reflection of eyes
That have known cities and think us here happy.
Time creeps over the patient who are too long patient,
So I, who have made one choice,
Discover that my boyhood has gone over.
And my life, too early of course for the profound cigarette,
The turned doorhandle, the knife turning
In the bowels of the hours, must not be made public
Until I have learnt to suffer
In accurate iambics.
I go, of course, through all the isolated acts,
Make a holiday of situations,
Straighten my tie and fix important jaws,
And note the living images
Of flesh that saunter through the eye.
Until from all I turn to think how,
In the middle of the journey through my life,
O how I came upon you, my
Reluctant leopard of the slow eyes.
· From Selected Poems by Derek Walcott, published by Faber (£16.99). To order a copy for £15.99 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0870 836 0875 or go to theguardian.com/bookshop