Ananse by Kamau Brathwaite


With a black snake's un-
winking eye
thinking thinking through glass
through quartz

quarries of stony water
with a doll's liquid gaze, crystal,
his brain green, a green chrysalis
storing leaves,

memories trunked up in a dark attic,
he stumps up the stares
of our windows, he stares, stares
he squats on the tips

of our language
black burr of conundrums
eye corner of ghosts, ancient his-

he spins drum-
beats, silver skin
webs of sound
through the villages;

Tacky heard him
and L'Ouverture
all the hung-
ry dumb-bellied chieftains

who spat
their death into the ground:
Goave, Port-au-Prince, Half Moon Fort,

dead lobster-pot crews,
wire, red sea shells, coconut trees’ hulls, nodding skulls,
black iron bells, clogged,
no glamour of noon on the man-

grove shore.
Now the poor hang him up in the ceiling,
their brooms cannot reach his hushed corner
and he sits with the dust, desert's rainfall of soot,
plotting a new fall from heaven

the moon
moonlight stories

his full mouth agape
a black pot

round fire that boils in his belly
walloboa wood words,
eyes, fireflies, sparks,
crashing coals' waterfalls,

grey ashes aroused,
old men's ghosts,
burnt memories' eyes in the hot hut,

curling silver,
revealing their shadows of meaning
as the god stares down,

black beating heart of him breathing
consuming our wood
and the words of our houses

black iron-eye'd eater, the many-eye'd maker,
dry stony world-maker, word-breaker,
creator . . . 

In the yard the dog barks at the stranger.

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