Jason Allen-Paisant

Jason Allen-Paisant

Going Still

I saw the rockets again
they came out overnight I stopped
and stared and then approached
and pulled a limb to me
Let rocket be the word

for this surprising thing that will
in months’ time be a green leaf
and a butterfly and a sack of seeds
like maracas dangling over ground
when they push forward their sprout

I can hardly describe the excitement
of the green shaft which was hidden
like a treasure and now comes out
onto Earth’s lip

A squirrel is no less a delight
a shock in the light of ordinariness

till a one-eyed mastiff — how could
I know the breed    but its shape
is the sound mastiff — jumps on me
having run down the slope beyond which
I was nothing but these future sprouts


the woman her owner
does she deign
to say good morning hello
I even think a handicapped dog
is a person in ways I cannot be

These days I cannot write poetry so
I come to the woods to reduce the speed
of my head   I’m in one of the better parts
it’s mostly the matting of dead leaves

that one sees in a kind of broad avenue
stretching upwards from the lake
It’s scattered with twigs in the shape of trees
the branches are falling away

and the silence here is a silence that is neither
emptiness nor fullness    the squirrels foraging
at the roots are silence   
Why does nobody do nothing?
Why does nobody sit on the roots and watch?
Everyone is going   
Why do I still come despite the dogs?

The sun explodes into fine lines of light
that crawl over the grass
they weave a net of flowing water
as a squirrel darts up a tree running through the fire

JASON ALLEN-PAISANT is a Jamaican poet whose first collection, Thinking with Trees, will be published by Carcanet Press in 2021. His work has also appeared in GrantaThe Poetry Review, PN Review, Callaloo, Stand, New Poetries VIII, and other venues.