Bahama Islands by Iris Tree


All down the somnolent street where pale tinged houses dream
The negroes go, black faces crowding together;
And between the palm leaves dancing with lethargic gestures,
The bright long water spreads, green as a parrot’s wing—
We have rest here and a monotony of wheels,
A peaceful noise like bees that moan in June—
And the sun rusts not, but his brazen heraldries
Tarnished with evening are burnished with the dawn.
Yet pain comes stabbing in the night with silver knife through the window,
A blanched moon full of fear and the burden of desire—
And nothing rids us utterly of grief,
We who have pilgrim souls that will not sleep.


Moonlight planting the world with lilies, so hushed it seems and scented,
But in the chapel is a droning where the negroes chant their hymns
And we in aureoled loneliness go down the street contented,
With hearts that beat for pleasure to the rhythm of our limbs.


From Poems, Iris Tree (1920)