“The Cida Poet Writes of Guyana” by Cyril Dabydeen

Here there’s no Orinoco, Demerara,
or darker rivers—
but journeys, sinuous; no recalling
Botanic Gardens, sidewalks of manatees,
snake slithering in dry grass…

Only flamboyant trees lining a roadway,
your face ruddy, remembering
a wife’s death and yet smiling at love
as your son conjures up Africa’s past,
visions too obscure to truly remember…

Making territory out of ancestry—
mutterings of other languages
with false accents, a tongue’s
twister I say—

Other memories, boundaries,
hard clay, alluvium of unpredictable
soil, such politics…
heaving at the edge of the ocean, throbbing
with seawalls. More words really,
Seymour’s rim of sun in your eyes…

Angles of a country gone haywire…
and you recover with love, bringing
the sidewalks, the stench, the garbage…
hopes in sewers, the ramshackle hospital,
further aid without strings … making a snapshot
and video out of poverty … muttering with other
Ottawa memories while perpetually skating
down the Rideau Canal—
always our tropics’ winter.