Theology in Negril

Christopher Bakken

 
BPR 49 | 2022

If I had not forgotten how to pray,
I might have spoken, Lord of Smoke,
but I just rolled and then smoked a long time
in the lap of a breadfruit tree
while lions came out to bathe themselves at dawn.

Late gratitude for everything I missed
and for all that I remember.
The throb of bass and the treble of waves.
A palm’s machete shredding wind.
Old jar darkened by the prophet’s honey.

You were the grackle announcing the sun.
In sugar, in shackles, in rum.
Inside the current and also the cliff.
You washed the cane field’s open wound
and scoured the sea for unburied bones.

In everything you took, in all you gave.
In the cleft of a split mango.
In fine sand brushed from a thigh:
the body’s perfection, once again.
Three days without clouds, then rain on the skin.

In small streams you hid, waiting for a flood.
In the color blue’s wet vowels.
In the ray, the shark, the coral, the conch.
I never asked for your blessing.
For all the ways I didn’t have to ask.