“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.” – Matthew 4:16
This, the Port of the boat people
This, the Port of their Prince
Docks of sails in sunset—
This is the Port of the boat people
After Dessalines and Duvalier, HIV and cholera
After tornado and tremblor
The Gadarene adventure and their Bay of Pigs
Canoewrecks off Florida, the invading boots of marines
From caravel to carrier—
After the desolate cities of my pilgrimage
And diverse tribulations
From deserts and catacombs to creole favelas,
These crosses of masts under the purpling evening
Their sails folding like seamless robes
The people neither coming nor going
In transit to the undying lands of their Prince
Who loved fishermen
Who slept in their boats
Roped their storms to His peace
And encompassed their little faith
With His incomprehensible love
At Capernaum, boats
The Port of the boat people
The Port of our Prince.
~ John Robert Lee
John Robert Lee is a St. Lucian writer who has published several collections of poetry. His short stories and poems appear in numerous international magazines, and his work is featured in World Poetry Portfolio #58, edited by Sudeep Sen for Molossus (2013).
His publications include: ‘Sighting and other poems of faith’ (2013), ‘elemental: new and selected poems’ (Peepal Tree Press, 2008), ‘Canticles’ (2007), a collection of poems illustrated with his photographs, ‘Artefacts’ (2000), ‘Saint Lucian’ (1988) and ‘Vocation’ (1975).
In 2006, he co-edited with Saint Lucian poet and playwright Kendel Hippolyte ‘Saint Lucian Literature and Theatre: an anthology of reviews’, which is recognized as a significant contribution to the documentation of the history of Saint Lucian writing and drama.
‘At Capernaum, boats’ appears in John Robert Lee’s collection ‘Sighting, and other poems of faith’ , and is reprinted here with permission from the poet.
Featured artwork by Casimir Joseph. Used with permission.