Feigning a Fine Fettle

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The Spanish Capture of St. Kitts - Don Fadrique de Toledo, 1629

The Spanish Capture of St. Kitts by Don Fadrique de Toledo in 1629 – Felix Castelo, 1634

The sun beams upon the forgetful memory

Of an indolent island, lost, facing a warm sea,

The days as long and languid as the years


Stretched out. And boys play among the glossed wood

Plantations, aromatic of sugar, bananas, spice, sweat,

And human fear that wafts and billows loose shirt tails,


White as sheets or even sails, rocking tales dreaming over time

And waves to a boy who sits in a preternaturally quiet study,

Idly tracing the embossed figures fighting and dancing


Along the cover of a venerable leather tome,

No knowledge of what it all means, only

Knowledge of that study, its moulded carvings,


Of the sunlight filtering through smudged and stained glass,

Illuminating little shimmering motes of the world dancing,

Fighting for all the muted beauty and glory of drifting


Down into an amber chamber of letters and dust,

The steady pulse of the lapis ocean lapping away

All the ideas and men, half remembered, all without name,


Where once they sailed along malformed coasts

Throwing down their anchors in archaic bays

Rowing to shore in awestruck, meager lines,


Unaware where their actions would trickle,

What canyons they would hew and delve

With plunging cataracts they could not foresee falling


Through these unresolved misted strands doubting

What shape their marred, meager lives would take,

Or what tapestries their threads would interweave,


Taking the first hesitant steps into a new world –

How could they know of the boy and the tome

Or what frayed and unraveled strands they would leave?



Give it to me straight.

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