Journal » Trout 12 » Visiting Hector [Cherie Barford]
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visiting hector

Cherie Barford

the whales arrived
when mangoes
fully ripe and luscious
were being plucked
and savoured

dragged behind teeth
swilled over tongues
then sucked to the stones
which were spat out
to the ever hungry dogs

and when they left
the heavens swelled
with stars and storms

potent as frocked priests
in an annual pageant
heralding change
and a season as hectic
as a bite from the jersey snake

thereís no serum
nature has to run her course
so locals say
leave the snakes alone
if you kill one
itíll bring bad weather

and thatís what happened
when a snorkler struck a snake
in the summer of '93

celestial chaos
transported a crocodile
a salt water youngster
from the solomons
to the loyalty islands

he was found by men
casting fishing nets
in a just-settled bay

in the shower cubicle
of a lady whose son
was the same size
as the castaway

that's where i found him

in a locked room
fed fish and crab meat
bonsaied by captivity
parted from the ocean
for eleven years

i cried real tears
for this crocodile
climbed broken stairs
to peer down at him
through a narrow window
children laughed at my face

hitching a ride
out of the village
on the back of a pickup
laden with timber

i asked in broken french
if hector was happy
if they'd let him go

everyone smiled
talked about music
invited me to a concert

in the evening
i guzzled wine and olives
watched the darkening surf
pound the horizon
to a fine black spear

realised i was an interloper
without totem or clan
and like summer storms
will come and go

but in these islands
there are eletoks
the sons of lizards
and like hector
they will remain

au revoir hector
j'ouvre la fenêtre
et je nage pour toi
dans la mer

goodbye hector
I open the window
and swim for you
in the sea


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© Copyright 2004 Cherie Barford & Trout.