Electricity Comes to Cocoa Bottom
Then all the children of Cocoa Bottom
went to see Mr. Samuel 's electric lights .
They camped on the grass bank outside his house,
their lamps filled with oil ,
waiting for sunset,
watching the sky turn yellow, orange .
Grannie Patterson across the road
peeped through the crack in her porch door .
The cable was drawn like a pencil line across the sun .
The fireflies waited in the shadows,
their lanterns off .
The kling-klings* swooped in from the hills,
congregating in the orange trees.
A breeze coming home from sea held its breath;
bamboo lining the dirt road stopped its swaying,
and evening came as soft as chiffon curtains :
Mr. Samuel smiling on the verandah –
a silhouette against the yellow shimmer behind him –
and there arising such a gasp ,
such a fluttering of wings,
such a swaying, swaying .
Light! Marvellous light!
And then the breeze rose up from above the trees,
swelling and swelling into a wind
such that the long grass bent forward
stretching across the bank like so many bowed heads.
And a voice in the wind whispered :
Is there one among us to record this moment?
but there was none –
no one (except for a few warm rocks
hidden among mongoose ferns) even heard a sound.
Already the children of Cocoa Bottom
had lit their lamps for the dark journey home,
and it was too late –
the moment had passed .
Kling-klings*: birds (Greater Antillean Grackles)
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