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Poetry in English


Samba ameriken, Anna Wexler, yon powèt k ap viv nan Brookline anndan Massachusetts konn kenbe bagèt pou l kata lanmou ak sousi li genyen pou kilti ayisyen. Vodou lakay enterese l anpil—dayè drapo nan seremoni vodou se tèz doktora komè sila nan edikasyon. Pou lektè nou yo ki familye ak ekriti angle nou pran plezi pibliye 5 moso pwezi kolaboratè nou pou seksyon angle an, komè Anna Wexler.

Bearing gifts

You left me this package
wrapped in black, white, and red
at the bottom of a bottle.
I cut and unwind the thread.
Already you have come between me
and the wandering girl
whose eyes are bleeding
from memories more exact
than torture manuals.
You listen without moving
to one more story
and the child’s fingers
dance inside their shadows
inventing touch
Already the spirits turn around me
like lovers in revolving mirrors.
I sew chains of beads
and tiny sequins
to catch the beauty
of their whirling faces.
You lay the cards down
one by one
pulling petals from the roses
encircling time
in the strange blossoms
where fear curls under each desire.
Ogou, Ezili Dantò, Danbala.
I am afraid
my face will shatter
in the brilliance of their gaze.
You say they shield
the girl I still find wandering
in landscapes too extreme
for war. Your hair
is streaked with ashes
the Gede dance around you
and I eat popcorn
from the bowl you offer.

The last vèvè

I looked for you in that country
whose dead wash up on the store
in they are lucky,
whose mourners are beaten for their grief.
The ship with delicate white lines
is not drawn for the great lwa
but for the sinking ferry
Neptune, ocean coffin,
carrying thousands anba dlo.
I find you in the old photo
wearing a black hat and the obscure gaze
of early knowledge.
What can you tell me
that I don’t already know?
The oungan doesn’t bend over
the earth tracing the anchor
of the ghost ship for nothing.
Shock enters
and takes me whirling
through the mirror
behind your gaze:
the double countries of death.
I watched the lies swimming
like drugged fish across the years
they claimed for peace.
I followed the waste down
into the invisible branching systems
of deception. Nothing
nothing remained
except an odor of incineration
to stir the memory of fire.
They say: only the chosen burn
because of the way their special skin
curls backwards, like scrolls
from the raw flesh, inscribed
with figures of spirits
born from each death
into the pantheon of slavery.
Dambala Laflanbo uncoils again
from the burning skeletons
of Los Angeles, his tongue
flickering commands for those
whose scars cannot deny him.
Violence is never random
though its masks seem
to float down spring
like the ethereal whiteness
of magnolia blossoms.

Park Hotel

The hotel swimming pool is empty.
Deep pink petals swirl into the void.
We walk past the Palis
whispering of the days before death.
I tell you of the old woman in red
who raised her fist in the air
when the jet ripped our minds
skyward. Aristide is returning
she said and the feathers of the cock beside her
burned gold in the dust of Site Solèy.
You show me the children you love so much
it makes me crazy. What you can’t
give them binds you,
the tape of their lives rewound endlessly,
going nowhere, erased.
I wake up lost
in the light curve of your fingers
as we cross the ravine
of fatra and bloated pigs.
I wanted to follow you
over the last threshold of desolation
but our lives divide us.
You take the tap-tap back to Carrefour.
I descend into the wind.

Storm center

Those who did not survive
the years of transformation
are present. Their cloths
are twisted around the long pole
the priests carry
at the head of the procession.
The dead have worn many colors.
It takes years to learn
to balance fire
on the top of your head,
to dance the storm
on the edge of a knife,
to crack the soft codes
of electric lies.
All for the blink
of the great Orisha,
the pure shaft
of avenging light.

There is no light
on the street without
windows. Boarded over
like dreams of profit
in a cycle of wars.
The child runs from
his body. The needle
hits. I am lost
Shango. The boys
at the crossroads
die
to see it.

Blind crossing

You leave your body
at the edge of beauty.
The shimmering lines
of perfect vèvè
cease to call you
by the thrill
of pure reflection
and then you hear it
a velocity collapsing
time, your names,
the multiple masks
of each beginning.
You cry
beyond the point
where there is giving
because exchange
is ceremonial
and the drums,
even the one
which is synchronized
to your blood,
are quiet.
I don’t know how
I got here.
The old man who paints
the faces of invisibles
says it’s love.
The only way to see them.

—Anna Wexler is working on her PhD at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on the subject: “The ritual artistry of a vodou flag maker”. She is an American friend of Haitian people and a passionate lover of Haitian culture.

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