In Trinidad, hunting season never ends.
Anthony Joseph’s “Capybara” understands. Legal and illegal don’t matter here. What matters is how much you go pay for a fresh-skinned manicou, a bouquet of iguanas blinking by the side of the road, an offertory of blue crabs waiting with bound gundis. Capybara is one way to say agouti, manicou, the large, social species that falls victim to a hunter’s rifle every day in Trinidad, either in or out of the sanctioned season.
The laws under laws move the exoskeleton of “Capybara”. This poem is concerned not with the strictures man imposes, but with the preternatural teeming that runs an island like a ghost carnival. The island is Trinidad, where “In Port of Spain / the cold Capybara’s brain is lifted up and eaten.” The Trinidad of the poet’s verses claims the sepulchral, the sinister, the erotic and the ecclesiastic, in imageries of Akashic coffins; Baptist promises; Deacons brewing turbulence; sisters waiting in Hindu hills; shuddering climaxes on black leather chairs.
Like any suitably uncivilized poem, the poem asks more questions than it, or you, can ever hope to answer. The answers to the questions are not answers. The questions don’t want that ordinariness. They want your intrigue, your gothic attentions, your hunter’s gunsmoke. The answer to the litany of ‘Whos’ in “Capybara” could be you. It could be the addressee of the poem, or the narrator who teases and implores us, with the closing salvo, “I fall in love / too easily.”
The poem gives us many keys; none of them unlock its own doors. Instead, take the capybara-key and turn it into the woodland of yourself: go hunting with the taste of manicou meat rich and rank on your tongue. Dine in all the lit rooms of The Ministry of Light, red-handed.
This is the sixth installment of Puncheon and Vetiver, a Caribbean Poetry Codex created to address vacancies of attention, focus and close reading for/of work written by living Caribbean poets, resident in the region and diaspora. During April, which is recognized as ‘National’ Poetry Month, each installment will dialogue with a single Caribbean poem, available to read online. NaPoWriMo encourages the writing of a poem for each day of April. In answering, parallel discourse, Puncheon and Vetiver seeks to honour the verse we Caribbean people make, to herald its visibility, to read our poems, and read them, and say ‘more’.