TAKE THIS RIVER We move up a spine of earth That bridges the river and the canal. And where a dying white log, finger-like, Floating off the bank, claws at the slope, We stumble, and we laugh. We slow beneath the moon's eye; Near the shine of the river's blood face, The canal's veil of underbrush sweats frost, And this ancient watery scar retains The motionless tears of men with troubled spirits. For like the whole earth, This land of mine is soaked... Shadows together, We fall on the grass without a word. We had run this far from the town.

We had taken the bony course, rocky and narrow, He leading, I following. Our breath streams into October As the wind sucks our sweat and a leaf... "We have come a long long way, mahn." He points over the river Where it bends west, then east, And leaves our sight. "I guess we have," I pant. "I can hear My angry muscles talking to my bones." And we laugh. The hood of night is coming.

Up the river, down the river The sky and night kiss between the wind. "You know," Ben says, "this is where I brought Evelyn... Look. We sat on that log And watched a river egret Till it flew away with the evening. "But mahn, she is a funny girl, Aiee! But she looks like me Jamaica woman...

But she asks me all the questions, mahn. I'm going to miss her mahn, Aiee! "But I will... Ewie. Ewie I love you, But I do Ewie...

Ewie... ," he says And blows a kiss into the wind. Broken shadows upon the canal Form and blur, as leaves shudder again... again "Tell me this, Ben," I say.

"Do you love American girls You know, do most Jamaicans Understand this country" W almost laugh. Our sweat is gone. He whispers "Aiee" on a long low breath And we turn full circle to the river, Our backs to the blind canal. "But I'm not most Jamaicans... I'm only Ben, and tomorrow I'll be gone, And...

Ewie, I love you... Aiee! My woman, how can I love you" Blurred images upon the river Flow together and we are there... "What did she ask you" I say. "Everything and nothing, maybe. But I couldn't tell her all." We almost laugh. "'Cause I Don't know it all, mahn.

"Look, see over there... We walked down from there Where the park ends And the canal begins Where that red shale rock Down the slope there... see Sits itself up like a figure, We first touch our hands... And up floats this log, Not in the river But in the canal there And it's slimy and old And I kick it back... And mahn, she does too. Then she asks me: 'Bennie, if I cry When you leave would you Remember me more' Aiee! She's a natural goddess! And she asks me: 'Bennie, when you think of Jamaica Can you picture me there' And while she's saying this, She's reaching for the river Current like she's feeling its pulse.

She asks me: 'Bennie, America means something to you Maybe our meeting, our love has Something to do with America, Like the river Do you know Bennie' Aiee, Aiee, mahn I tell you She might make me marry... Aiee! Ewie, Jamaica... moon! And how can I say anything I tell her: 'Africa, somewhere is Africa. Do you understand,' I say to her, And she look at me with the moon, And I hear the wind and the leaves And we do not laugh... We are so close now no wind between us... I say to her: 'Ewie, I do not know America Except maybe in my tears...

Maybe when I look out from Jamaica Sometimes, at the ocean water... Maybe then I know this country... But I know that we, we Ewie... I know that this river goes and goes. She takes me to the ocean, The mother of water And then I am home.' And she tells me she knows By the silence in her eyes.

I reach our hands again down And bathe them in the night current And I say: 'Take this river, Ewie... .' Aiee, wind around us, Aiee my God! Only the night knows how we kiss." He stands up. A raincloud sailing upon a leak, whirs In the momentary embrace of our memories... "Let's run," I say, "and warm these bones." But he trots a bit, then stops, Looking at his Jamaica sky.

"Let's run the long road west Down the river road," I say, "And I'll tell you of my woman... Aiee." We laugh, but we stop. And then, up the spiny ridge We race through the trees Like spirited fingers of frosty air. We move toward some blurred Mechanical light edged like an egret And swallowed by the night. Into this land of mine. And the wind is cold, a prodding Finger at our backs.

The still earth. Except for us. And from behind that ebon cloak, The moon observes... And we do not laugh And we do not cry, And where the land slopes, We take the river... But we do not stumble, We do not laugh, We do not cry, And we do not stop... Online Source: web Copyright Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99 FUNK The great god Shan go in the African sea reached down with palm oil and oozed out me.

Online Source: web Copyright Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99 PEAS Peas in the pod peas in my gut peas in the belly roll doing the strut. Blackeyes over blackeyes down blackeyes browne yes going to town Online Source: web Copyright Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99 YAMS I made a yam ship for my belly with my spoon and sweet riding jelly bread kept me til noon. Online Source: web Copyright Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99 BROWN SOUNDS brown sound chocolate memories like the first time you saw grapes and tasted them and learned the color blue brown sound cream milk echoes like the first time you saw bees and tasted gold and learned the honey tongue brown sound africa pulses like the first time you exploded between legs and heard drums and learned the message of rhythm love brown sound america pulses plus pushing down trees like the first time you saw that wild crazy horse riding through painted deserts and you learned the grand canyon red mother brown sound black outline like the first time like the first time the first time is the last time like that Online Source: web Copyright Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99 Click on the link above for additional online poems by Henry Dumas.