Already offerings of candy and toys
have been spread at our feet to appease,
but we had no part in this. So many souls
did not have to join the ancestors.
Bondye has given you the power to save
yourselves, but like those priests who pretend
they don’t know we are older than their god;
presidents who sold blood for pearls as smooth
as skulls that hang around Michelle’s neck;
poets who would not speak in their mother’s
tongue, but remained mute as mulattos
who banned the name Papa Dessalines,
nèg refuse to see the fault that runs
deep through the chains of these islands,
betrayals that not even Maman Défilé
could heal. So bury us soon, for although
the earth is young, this island has been shaking
since the saints awakened at Bois Caiman.
Put our tiny bones in the caves of Jacmel,
under the waterfalls of Cormier Plage,
erect headstones from crushed cement
and twisted rebar to rebuild the dream,
for there is one who has always stood between us
in whose presence we tremble.