I myself had learnt the alphabet, once, long ago,
in a place that was small and known.
But my forgetfulness has grown.
Here, your marks on paper scratch at my heart
as if they were the dragon’s teeth sown,
that split our tongues, that made us scatter,
that made me forget myself, my own alphabet.
I’m a poor guide but I want to erase those scratches,
wipe the slate clean. I’m handing you over
so you can go to places that I have never seen.
This magic leads you on, doesn’t it? These hooks
that pull the sounds fresh from your mouth
and place them in your fist.
Olive Senior (born 1941) Jamaica
Source: Pen International Vol 60, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2010