02 April 2010

The Coach Painter

(1826, Bridgetown, Barbados)

paint pots of red and gilt, in
Barbados, Bridgetown it was, where
the conflagration rose up--and the

carriage for the Governor only
half-complete, the coat-of-arms
a bare tracing when an errant

spark fell upon those rags, long
forgotten, and, as the birds
cried out their evening song the

smouldering grew to flame, the glass
panes, carefully leaded, carried from England,
blackened and cracked, the lion and the

unicorn rampant no more, but
charred to dust, the billowing smoke seen
beyond the green of canefields, an ill

omen, indeed, in this coastal town,
the sails of tall schooners swaying on the
water, moored to this island

of coral limestone, his cat
run into the cotton at the
first sign of smoke. the sun

rises again and he, too, to survey
the damage, the salvage starts,
building up again, from the earth,
this painter of coaches

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