A Sun’s Life

An alligator’s mating
cough and call. I am on
a lookout
in dreams
surfacing once more.
I am livid for a while—

a somersault next,
more things going down,
water and mud slaking ;
then the softnesses

reaching out,
a resounding call
in my life, from deep
deep below

water spurting,
bits of weeds floating,
grass, shells—
glass too

eyes looking back
the creek in me, belching out
the sun’s ancient


Questions and Answers

What inspired “A Sun’s Life”?

In “A Sun’s Life” I think I was in a state of reverie, an in-dwelling moment (as I would like to call it) when I kept going back into the deeper core of my being, like peeling back layers of memory. I was casting my mind back to the tropics, to Guyana where I was born and recalling an image: an alligator; you see in the sugar estate district where I grew up, there were waterways…canals dug to haul the large cane-punts to the factory for the grinding of the cane (in the poem I use the term “creek”); and sometimes, as kids, we would see alligators surfacing, and we’d all be excited and also be afraid of them. So in this poem I was conjuring up what’s elemental in a kind of associative way, with the sun as the source of everything, and hoping to investigate the “bottomless pool of origins.” I feel the poem captures elemental life, what’s at the heart of the imagination: in our being who we are. The end about the “sun’s ancient/Rust” has to do with the timelessness of things, I suppose.

What poetic techniques did you use in “A Sun’s Life”?

The technique is that of starting with an image: the alligator—a reptile—as something natural or elemental, and going from there and allowing other imagery to enter the scene, with the background sense of everything being alive, “with eyes looking back.” The image is often everything for me, and I’ve been called an imagist; and then the image becomes associative. In terms of form per se, it is free verse, with short stanzas and short line-lengths as the best way for me to achieve my poetic effect.

This poem “A Sun’s Life” originally appeared in Caribbean Connections. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 95 (Winter 1982): 65.

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