October 1, 2013
He moves haphazardly, blown along the pavement in uneven gusts, like ricepaper. The oldest man in the world. Not for him, beneath that mask of grey enamelled hair, dried dreams of palaces floating on their pools of silken poetry or orchideous concubines in rites of silk. More likely a drab exchange of servitude Eastern soil for saltfish and the crudely offered tithes paid daily on the mackerel counters by us lazy blacks who’d rather spend than sell: the necessary sacrifice of language and the timeless shame of burial in this uncultured soil. Yet in the intricate embroidery of that face are all the possibilities of legend— Kublai Khan in rags. Loud-limbed and less ancient I defer the pavement to this parchment schooner with no port, this ivory chorale of semitones.