To Choose Between Mountains / tregenza a. roach

By my mother’s account,
I inherited your feet,
wide, thick, a prominent arch
inspired by the pitons
conscripted to rough places,
in the highlands and the low
and where the river stumbles
as it rushes through its course
to join the sea in dancing.
And with this legacy,
defined by bone and sinew,
I am commanded to roam
air and earth and water,
that I might make a match
of these ample footprints
with any mark left in sand
or on the ground of any village,
Marigot, Roseau, Boetica,
which showed you a way
to choose between mountains.
Everything grows here
if it has strong nature,
if it wills itself to live,
against the stifling green,
against the rampage of water
fertile, hostile Dominica,
named in a state of grace
a place which any god
would keep for herself,
against the mortal slaughter.
We are not strangers
who come to this land,
standing in the name
of our father’s fathers,
we who seek to make amends
with every rock abandoned
and each tree left to its will.
And it brings us sweet comfort,
a calm and precious wind
shouting once and whispering next
that every thing is forgiven.

Tregenza A. Roach teaches at University of the Virgin Islands. His work has been published in The Caribbean Writer, where it earned the Marguerite Cobb McKay prize, and Calabash. He published his own collection, The Blessing of Rain and Other Poems, and was awarded the Margaret Walker Prize for fiction (Detroit Writers Guild).

One comment

  1. You are right. What we carry with us is not only the physical traits of our ancestors but their attitude and spirituality as well. I love the following lines “Dominica,
    named in a state of grace/a place which any god/
    would keep for herself,” because of your projection of God as female. And why not. It is such a logical thing because God should be nuturing and be freting about the state of her Eden and the welfare of her offsprings which include the writer and his ancestors. Your poem is filled with great debth and inspiration.

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