Image by Denis Valentine

After the Green Gown of My Mother Gone Down

Lorna Goodison


After the Green Gown of My Mother Gone Down

Lorna Goodison


After the Green Gown of My Mother Gone Down

After the Green Gown of My Mother Gone Down

August, her large heart slows down then stops.
Fall now, the trees flame, catch a fire and riot

last leaves in scarlet and gold fever burning.
Remember when you heard Bob Marley hymn

'Redemption song', and from his tone and timbre
you sensed him traveling? He had sent the band home

and was just keeping himself company, cooling star,
sad rudeboy fretting on cowboy box guitar

in a studio with a stray echo and wailing sound
lost singing scatting through the door of no return.

When the green goes, beloved, the secret is opened.
The breath falls still, the life covenant is broken.

Dress my mother's cold body in a deep green gown.
Catch a fire and let fall and flame time come

after the green gown of my mother gone down.


'After the Green Gown of my Mother Gone Down' from Turn Thanks (University of Illinois Press, 1999) and Guinea Woman: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2000), © Lorna Goodison 1995, used by permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.

Books & cds by Lorna Goodison