Poem: "Paradise Unpruned" by Pamela Harrison
The tropical sun sets somewhere beyond
the bulwark of trunks, vines, and jungle scrub
that muscle from our back yard all the way
to where, we’re told, smugglers load their boats
with dope by night for richer markets north.
Rufus strops his cutlass to help me cut a view.
Armed with garden shears and pruning tongs,
I’m gloved, trousered, long-sleeved and be-hatted
against ambush by venomous bandits passing as sticks,
and caustic blossoms posing as bugs—life so disguised,
half the time I don’t know what I’m hacking at.
Three hours’ work and we’ve cleared an arm’s length more.
Sinking into a chair to sip my rum, I see the sunset, just.
Pearly clouds mount behind Chapeau Carré,
beaches glow, pale as parings of the moon.
I see Godiva working late, digging her okra slope
with a mattock and blade. Eighty-two, she waves
a stringy arm tougher than her Bible’s cover.
Before he goes, Rufus gathers stink bush leaves
for his baby’s clothes, obeah, he says,
against the “ebil debil.” What do I know?
I have scant purchase on a view.
From Glory Bush and Green Banana (Turning Point, 2017)
Pamela Harrison reads Paradise Unpruned