Cyril Dabydeen's Amazonia


We discussed how Caribbean
writers only look north,
and how maybe I'm unique
among them (I want to believe)
because of my interest
in all of South America.

Indeed, when you came to my home
in Ottawa, we ate
barbecued capybara,
and for starters swallowed
anaconda's eggs whole -
you better believe it -
and drank Irish beer,
Guinness and Smithwick's
(I'd just returned from Dublin, you see,
spent time at the Writer's Museum
with Yeats and Joyce,
Behan and Beckett).

You told me of the time
when you wanted to come
to Georgetown from Brazil,
to the university, and travelled
to Boa Vista on the border,
and ended up in Lethem
where you planned to board
a plane...

But somehow
a cow had hit the plane
and the trip was cancelled,
and with another woman,
with your scholar's ways,
you travelled to Venezuela instead
to continue your work: this interest
in poetry - mine, if only for a while
because I'd been born in Amazonia.

Now you snap a picture of
my daughter, with my wife
looking on; and Pilar from Spain,
keen on Margaret Atwood,
noted our different ways
in the one place I call home -
far more than Canadian Studies,
now that we're indeed here.

Copyright Cyril Dabydeen, 2004.
From Imaginary Origins. Selected Poems 1970-2002.
Reprinted with author's permission.

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