Thursday, April 26, 2018

The shape of shores

I found a poem I don't remember ever seeing by one of my favorite Jamaican poets, Dennis Scott. His most famous poem, "Uncle Time," was a staple on every school curriculum when I was growing up, although it possessed layers of meaning that did not reveal itself to schoolchildren. One year I was chosen to perform it from the stage on prize giving night. In those days I thought I was going to be an artist, and perhaps my teachers encouraged this, because every year, I received a prize for my art. But perhaps they also knew I wrote in secret. I was too shy to show anyone my stories, but maybe my teachers wanted to encourage the writing, too, because that year, the book I was given was not about a famous artist as it usually was (Durer, DaVinci, Modigliani). That year, it was a thin chapbook of Dennis Scott's poems, in which he had secreted worlds. But this poem, "Marrysong," wasn't in it. Or if it was, it utterly escaped me then. 


He never learned her, quite. Year after year
that territory, without seasons, shifted
under his eye. An hour he could be lost
in the walled anger of her quarried hurt
or turning, see cool water laughing where
the day before there were stones in her voice.
He charted. She made wilderness again.
Roads disappeared. The map was never true.
Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting of sea –
and suddenly she would change the shape of shores
faultlessly calm. All, all was each day new:
the shadows of her love shortened or grew
like trees seen from an unexpected hill,
new country at each jaunty, helpless journey.
So he accepted that geography, constantly strange.
Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to find
his way among the landscapes of her mind.

—Dennis Scott


  1. That is so lovely and what an amazing way to speak of a beloved's emotional heartscape.
    I wonder if my husband ever feels this way about me. Thank you for giving us this today.

  2. I love the poem, but that photo takes my breath away! Can you tell me about it?

    1. The photo is taken from a room at Jake's Treasure Beach in Jamaica. An idyllic place.

    2. I've got to check into going there!!

  3. Thank you for introducing me to a new poet. I want to read more and the photo is beautiful.

  4. Oh! What e said. Just lovely!


  5. That wins the internet. That poem...well, sounds very familiar. All the feels. XXOO

  6. Your writing and your art expressed through photography are a treasure that you share generously. Thank you.

    And thank you for the introduction to the poetry of Dennis Scott. I continue to find rich paths beginning here at your blog.

  7. The photo and poem, both tug at the heart and remind us of all that is true of landscapes internal and external. Thank you for posting this. I needed to read it and see this view.

  8. the photo , sigh, I nestled right in, Thank you. Comforted!

  9. I do not know Dennis Scott, but that's a terrific poem. It's true of anyone in a relationship, I think, regardless of gender -- there's new and continual rediscovery and redefinition.