Creole Son of the Francophone World

Ours are the hills of the old marronnage
ours are the coves and the cobalt bluffs
the sovereign trees blooming
in the eye of the cyclone!

ours are the dark rum beaches
under the moonlight
companion stars facing the sea
warmly dazzling!
ours are the dancing evenings
offering one last glass
of punch to our dead!

ours is the frenzied carnival
the cock fights
the Catholic feasts
so intertwined with the Vaudou
free-spirited at the table and in bed!

ours is the soaring to seventh heaven
at the taste of sweet potato and manioc
of black beans and dion-dion rice,
of akra and little cod cakes,
of fish and plantains–
mischievous guards
of the paradise
of spicy dishes!

ours is the freedom to escape
the outrages of the past: the white-hard
times of hisses, spirt and endlessly shackled feet,
souls and hands
angels burning with lime
and bird pepper
on the wounds of long, long ago
and by the blood that runs even faster
than Somalia’s entire dark misfortune.

A history that is ours at least
sailing through the French-speaking world
a life-lost ocean for us
the sensuous jubilation of a drum
when we drink, eat and climax
to our gourmand and Creole imagination!

By René Depestre
translated, from the French, by Anita Sagástegui

Anita Sagástegui is currently pursuing her Masters in Art Education at the Academy of Art Univeristy in San Francisco. She also teaches visual arts, and has taught with the Center for the Art of Translation. René Depestre (1926-) is a Haitian poet. He lived in Cuba as an exile from the Duvalier regime for many years, and helped found the Casa de las Americas publishing house.