A troubadour, I traverse all my land
exploring all her wide-flung parts with zest
probing in motion sweeter far than rest
her secret thickets with an amorous hand:
and I have laughed, disdaining those who
inquiry and movement, delighting in the test
of will when doomed by Saracened arrest,
choosing, like unarmed thumb, simply to stand.
Thus, quixoting till a cast-off of my land
I sing and fare, person to loved-one pressed
braced for this pressure and the captor's hand
that snaps off service like a weathered strand:
- no mistress-favour has adorned my breast
only the shadow of an arrow-brand.
The sounds begin again;
the siren in the night
the thunder at the door
the shriek of nerves in pain.
Then the keening crescendo
of faces split by pain
the wordless, endless wail
only the unfree know.
Importunate as rain
the wraiths exhale their woe
over the sirens, knuckles, boots;
my sounds begin again.
© Dennis Brutus, Sirens, Knuckles, Boots 1963