“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,external image electricity
waiting for the 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 thee 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 the sea held its breath;
bamboo lining in the dirt road stopped its swaying,
and evening came as soft as chiffon curtains:
Closing. Closing.

Light!
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,
tweet-a-whit,
such a swaying, swaying.
Light! Marvelous light!
And then the breeze rose up from above the trees,
swelling and swelling into a wind
such that then 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 the mongoose ferns) even heard a sound.
Already the children of Cocoa Bottom
had lit their lamps for the bark journey home,
and it was too late –
the moment had passed.

Marcia Douglas