Kei Miller

Here where blossom the orchids, two hundred 
               & twenty in variety. Some have adapted to bone 
dry places, to being purple amongst the stone. 

              Here where blossom Jamaican Ladies 
of the Night, I mean the flowers –  
              their petals, the colour of weddings,

their perfume, the scent of parlours. 
              There is much that blossoms in these bushes
& much that rots, like Jamaican ladies of the night –

              I no longer mean the flowers. Here 
where grows the Hog Apple, the Hog Money. Here 
              where wild hogs rut at the roots of things.

The trees, sometimes, are grunting.
              Here where you can find the Tuna, 
Here, the Monkey’s Hand, the Cow’s Tongue, 

such things seem not to belong 
             to bushes, but they are as much a part 
as the Bullock’s Heart, the Dog’s Tail –

               as much a part as the broken 
bottles & burnt cars. Is that 
               the right way to say it? Especially

here? Should I have said: de heap 
               of bruk bokkle & de plenty bun up cyar?
Here that cannot be held 

by the small arms of language. 
              Here that cannot be held
by the small arms of English. 

              Here that cannot be held by the English. 
                            But how they tried! 
Here is where they found Nanny

              or where Nanny found them, 
where you might find her still — if you believe
              in kumina, the never-dead of spirits. 

Nanny – do you know her story? Her peculiar ability 
              to catch bullets? & in which cavity? 
Some say she could then shoot them forth 

              but I think this was all a metaphor
for the magnificent stink of her farts,
            that coming across a whiteman 

                               she could just lift up her frocktail 
               & clear the bush of English.
Here where is the inscrutability. The wild 

              & passionate uproar. Here 
where is the horror! The horror! 
              Here where you might find the war. 

              Here where blossoms the knife, 
here where blossoms the blade, 
               here where glistens the blood.

The Wild Mint grows here, & the Wild 
                Pawpaw, & the Wild Sage,
& the Wild Caesar Obeah. So much wildness 

              can be found here where creeps 
the Cerassee, the Love Bush that strangles trees. 
               Here where shines the Raw Moon – 

              ‘Raw Moon’ being folk etymology. Original word,
Ramoon. Here where you will find 
                the much improved 

names of things – the slow greening and rootsing
                of Latin; ‘Semen contra’ becomes Semi-contract,
‘Sempervivum’ becomes ‘Simple Bible’

              becomes, ‘Sinkle Bible’ – let the trees
say Amen. Here where blossoms the Ginger, 
              here where blossoms the danger.

              Here where you must pray 
against the loud bark of Cedar, 
              seek God in the orchids 

ask help of Archangels, though here
             Archangels are only flowers,
their petals, the colour of weddings,

their perfume, the scent of parlours –
            by which I mean the heavily powdered dead,
this landscape like a wreath laid 

            against itself. Here where blossoms the Natto,
here where blossoms the Nettle. 
                               Here where blossoms the Night.