April 14, 2008

"Prayer for Naming Ceremony" by Adrian Castro

Adrian CastroOne of the most vibrant Caribbean/South Florida poets, Adrian Castro's work scintillates with tonality, bilingualism, clarity of image and spirit. On the publication of his first collection, Cantos to Blood & Honey, Victor Hernandez Cruz wrote, “Reading [Castro]...is like ritual itself, like ceremony. Castro's criollo bipolarity and polyrhythmic versing approximate chant. The poems are clear maps of migrations, from the indigenous Orinoco and island hopping, to the Spanish sailors who vanished into Siboney maracas. The sounds of the Yorubas upon wooden vessels crossing the Atlantic, singing the first salsa into the stars. History is organized burglary. Adrian Castro has realized his geophysical position in the spider web of Caribbean history as an individual and as a larger portion of blue space.” Adrian’s work has been widely anthologized in publications such as Paper Dance: 55 Latino Poets, One Century of Cuban Writers in Florida, and Little Havana Blues. His most recent collection, Wise Fish, was published by Coffee House Press. He lives in Miami, Florida.

Prayer for Naming Ceremony

for my daughter Ajibo

Today we wake to touch forehead on Earth

Today we wake with brow burrowed into the richness of hope

Today early when dew feet

spread through the theater of daylight

we pray that

at the night of our lives you will

witness our last ritual

She is three days old today

& steps thrice on the dust of the world

Can we differ the foot of madman

from the print of prince?

(We have assembled herb bundles—

Odundun here called siempre viva

Tètè called bledo/wild spinach which

sprouts despite the pounce of man

Atèpe/Gbegi the grass that twines

through contorting obstacles

We have bundled on clay dish what you will taste:

kola nuts, bitter kola, sugarcane, honey, pepper,

dried fish, water, gin, red African-Grey feather as spoon)

Today we begin to sketch the verses

you will sing through life

Verses that you chose in the language of deities

when you kneeled in the other world

when I exhaled liquid fatherhood

& your mother embraced my breath

We pray that we may plant a flag

so you know where is home

even after the pounce of madmen

We pray that you are careful where to alight

that you fly forward while

looking back

That your verses do not scatter if

a storm tears your memory

That you understand the songs you will sing

And you remember the language you once spoke

Today is the opening chapter

of a crystallized prayer


Throughout the month of April, National Poetry Month, poets from the Caribbean and South Florida will be featured on this blog.

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