Guest poem sent in by Sashidhar Dandamudi
(Poem #1411) Pentecost
Better a jungle in the head than rootless concrete. Better to stand bewildered by the fireflies' crooked street; winter lamps do not show where the sidewalk is lost, nor can these tongues of snow speak for the Holy Ghost; the self-increasing silence of words dropped from a roof points along iron railings, direction, in not proof. But best is this night surf with slow scriptures of sand, that sends, not quite a seraph, but a late cormorant, whose fading cry propels through phosphorescent shoal what, in my childhood gospels, used to be called the Soul.
While Pentecost doesn't map to the current "Ho Ho Ho" season in the United States, on reading this poem from "Arkansas Testament" a few nights ago, it occured to me that minus the title, this poem (a call for the tropics in a tropical "soul"), voices an yearning (and for me personally more apt) which shines, all the more wonderfuly when contrasted to all that "White Christmas" noise on the radio. Of course we have to hand it to Walcott for his perfect "finishes"! Happy Holidays! - Sashi [Martin adds] The (indeed perfect) finish reminded me of Poem #1197, with its refrain of "some call it ..., others call it God". The tone is different, though - today's poem is more nostalgic, and, as Sashi says, more yearning for a religion that is increasingly missing in the narrator's life. "Childhood" is a double-edged word, and there is definitely a suggestion that the "childhood gospels" were in some sense naive, but overall, I think, the poem's burden is that something of value has been, and is being lost.