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.

Sponsor this poem

Would you like to sponsor this poem? Find out how here.


Buy album £0.00

1I am Becoming My Mother

2Guinea Woman

3For My Mother (May I Inherit Half Her Strength)


5Letters to the Egyptian

6The Road of the Dread

7Tamarind Season

8Songs for My Son

9My Will

10The Mulatta as Penelope

11'Mine, O Thou Lord of Life, Send My Roots Rain'

12Keith Jarret - Rainmaker

13'I shall Light a Candle of Understanding in Thine Heart Which Shall Not Be Put Out'

14This is a Hymn

15Heartease I

16Heartease II

17To Us, All Flowers are Roses

18After the Green Gown of My Mother Gone Down

19My Mother's Sea Chanty

20Heartease New England 1987

21Recommendation for Amber

22On Becomming a Tiger

23Turn Thanks to Miss Mirry

24To Mr William Wordsworth, Distributor of Stamps for Westmoreland

25Aunt Rose's Honey Advice

26Morning, Morning Angel Mine

27Farewell Wild Woman

28Island Aubade

29Ode to the Watchman

30The Wandering Jew and the Arab Merchant on the Island of Allspice

31Passing the Grace Vessels of Calabash

32So Who Was the Mother of Jamaican Art?


34Controlling the Silver

35Bam Chi Chi La La: London 1969

Books by Lorna Goodison