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In The Virgins

 You can't put in the ground swell of the organ
from the Christiansted, St.
Croix, Anglican Church behind the paratrooper's voice: "Turned cop after Vietnam.
I made thirty jumps.
" Bells punish the dead street and pigeons lurch from the stone belfry, opening their chutes, circling until the rings of ringing stop.
"Salud!" The paratrooper's glass is raised.
The congregation rises to its feet like a patrol, with scuffling shoes and boots, repeating orders as the organ thumps: "Praise Ye the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised.
" You cannot hear, beyond the quiet harbor, the breakers cannonading on the bruised horizon, or the charter engines gunning for Buck Island.
The only war here is a war of silence between blue sky and sea, and just one voice, the marching choir's, is raised to draft new conscripts with the ancient cry of "Onward, Christian Soldiers," into pews half-empty still, or like a glass, half-full.
Pinning itself to a cornice, a gull hangs like a medal from the serge-blue sky.
Are these boats all? Is the blue water all? The rocks surpliced with lace where they are moored, dinghy, catamaran, and racing yawl, nodding to the ground swell of "Praise the Lord"? Wesley and Watts, their evangelical light lanced down the mine shafts to our chapel pew, its beam gritted with motes of anthracite that drifted on us in our chapel benches: from God's slow-grinding mills in Lancashire, ash on the dead mired in Flanders' trenches, as a gray drizzle now defiles the view of this blue harbor, framed in windows where two yellow palm fronds, jerked by the wind's rain, agree like horses' necks, and nodding bear, slow as a hearse, a haze of tasseled rain, and, as the weather changes in a child, the paradisal day outside grows dark, the yachts flutter like moths in a gray jar, the martial voices fade in thunder, while across the harbor, like a timid lure, a rainbow casts its seven-colored arc.
Tonight, now Sunday has been put to rest.
Altar lights ride the black glass where the yachts stiffly repeat themselves and phosphoresce with every ripple - the wide parking-lots of tidal affluence - and every mast sways the night's dial as its needle veers to find the station which is truly peace.
Like neon lasers shot across the bars discos blast out the music of the spheres, and, one by one, science infects the stars.

Poem by Derek Walcott
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