Reporting Back to Queen Isabella

When Don Cristobal returned to a hero’s welcome,
his caravels corked with treasures of the New World,
he presented his findings; told of his great adventures
to Queen Isabella, whose speech set the gold standard
for her nation’s language. When he came to Xamaica
he described it so: ‘The fairest isle that eyes ever beheld.’
Then he balled up a big sheet of parchment, unclenched,
and let it fall off a flat surface before it landed at her feet.
There we were, massifs, high mountain ranges, expansive
plains, deep valleys, one he’d christened for the Queen
of Spain. Overabundance of wood, over one hundred
rivers, food, and fat pastures for Spanish horses, men,
and cattle; and yes, your majesty, there were some people.

“Reporting Back to Queen Isabella” from Supplying Salt and Light by Lorna
Goodison, Copyright © 2013 Lorna Goodison. Reprinted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Carcanet Press for UK & British Commonwealth.

This poem was originally read in the Poetry Unbound episode “Lorna Goodison — Reporting Back to Queen Isabella.”