Night In The Gardens Of Port Of Spain, by Saint Lucian Poet Derek Walcott

A short but poigniant poem from legendary Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott, reflecting on the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain in 1962.

derek walcott port of spain

Night, the black summer, simplifies her smells into a village; she assumes the impenetrable musk of the negro, grows secret as sweat, her alleys odorous with shucked oyster shells, coals of gold oranges, braziers of melon.

Commerce and tambourines increase her heat. Hellfire or the whorehouse: crossing Park Street, a surf of sailor’s faces crest, is gone with the sea’s phosphoresence; the boites-de-nuit tinkle like fireflies in her thick hair.

Blinded by headlamps, deaf to taxi klaxons, she lifts her face from the cheap, pitch oil flare toward white stars, like cities, flashing neon, burning to be the bitch she must become.

As daylight breaks the coolie turns his tumbril of hacked, beheaded coconuts towards home.

Sign up for our Nearshore Americas newsletter: