04 February 2010

Voices and Soul

2 February 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Poetry Contributor

On 12 October 1492, Columbus landed on an island he "christened", San Salvador. The Indigenous peoples there had named it, Guanahani. There has been some controversy over the years concerning which island was Guanahani; the original log book has been lost for centuries, and the edited abstract made by Bartolomé de las Casas has been in grave disrepair. West Indies poet Kamau Brathwaite explores historical links and events that have contributed to the development of the black population in the Caribbean. He envisions Guanahani on the day before 12 October, on the long island now called Eleuthera; a word derived from the feminine of the Greek, "eleutheros"; meaning, "free".

Guanahani, 11

like the beginnings - o odales o adagios - of islands
from under the clouds where I write the first poem

its brown warmth now that we recognize them
even from this thunder's distance

still w/out sound. so much hope
now around the heart of lightning that I begin to weep

w/such happiness of familiar landscape
such genius of colour. shape of bay. headland

the dark moors of the mountain
ranges. a door opening in the sky

right down into these new blues & sleeping yellows
greens - like a mother's

embrace like a lover's
enclosure. like schools

of fish migrating towards homeland. into the bright
light of expectation. birth

of these long roads along the edge of Eleuthera,
now sinking into its memory behind us

-- Kamau Brathwaite

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