Donna is the author of First Rain, an amazing and passionate book with poems of nuanced meditation and engaging thought-provoking anecdote. She includes family legends, those of home, immigration, and displacement.
"Where are your monuments
your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that gray vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History."
("The Sea is History" by Derek Walcott)
Criolla De Dispossessed Meets the Great Griot from St. Lucia.
A me dis
de illegitimate offspring
of de illicit affair
de outside chile
once remove from both sides
both a dem a try fe deny me
mi double birthright
"I who am poisoned with the blood of both,
Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?
How can I face such slaughter and be cool?
How can I turn from Africa and live?"
("A Far Cry From Africa" by Derek Walcott)
No one nuh come fe claim I and I
so me climb up inna de cave
curl up with de snakes
and learn to whisper venom
blow me snake-breath into de wind
embitter de firs’ dust of spring pollen
bees come buzzing round me lap
creaming one love into me orifices
me lend dem deceit fe sweeten dem sting.
Me is de outside chile
de illegitimate one
mother declare herself unwilling
unwitting accomplice, declare me bastard
corrupt like me daddy passion
birthed me at de mouth of de cavern
and return to Prosper
unblemished from her nights of sin
"While somewhere, a white horse gallops
with its mane plunging round a field whose sticks are ringed with barbed wire,and men/break stones or bind straws into ricks."
("Elsewhere" by Derek Walcott)
Me deh yah de suck snake venom
while she squeeze out me milk
from outta her breasts
pon de hot fire-hearth stone dem
hear de tortured sizzle
as she drain herself dry like parched corn
(and dem claim dem never learn nuttin from mi granny)
while me de dead fe hungry
But me jus ban mi belly
and swallow bile with de venom
and grow forked tongues
dat stretch the length of fern gully
me grow verdant and supple
like alan bamboo
reaching round worlds
and back to this little piece of rock
where me stretch out, shed me skin
like croakin’ lizard
and wait for de day when me nuh longer wait...
Fadda nuh dare look pon me
him talk to mi wid im back turn:
"They walk, you write; keep to that narrow causeway without looking down
climbing in their footsteps, that slow, ancestral beat
of those used to climbing roads; /your own work owes them
because the couplet of those multiplying feet
made your first rhymes. Look, they climb and no one knows them;
they take their copper pittances, and your duty
. . .is the chance you now have, to give those feet a voice."
(Omeros, 75-6 by Derek Walcott)
And a so fe me fada name de worlds I and I see
and de faces that refuse to see me
me learn de rhythm of him voice
each curve and dip
every swell and whirl
syllable by syllable me swallow
him meaning whole
until me learn to speak in parables
like de river.
Red moon over Lagos
Bleeds fe me name in ochre dust
Ile Ife a call me
Ile Ife a call me
Ile Ife a call me name
"Then suddenly from their rotting logs distracting signs of the faith I betrayed,
or the faith that betrayed me,
yellow butterflies rising on the road to Valencia."
(Midsummer,"LIV" by Derek Walcott)
Street children throng de markets
bellies heavy wid wind.
gods are silent now, yes!
sleeping in de museum
By de Palace gate.
Rent de moon, Iyah!!!!
Let de rain come dung
Sacred blood cleanse even fools!
"Who is that dark child on the parapets
of Europe, watching the evening river mint
its sovereigns stamped with power, not with poets,
the Thames and the Neva rustling like banknotes,
then, black on gold, the Hudson's silhouettes?
From frozen Neva to the Hudson pours,
under the airport domes, the echoing stations,
the tributary of emigrants whom exile
has made as classless as the common cold,
citizens of a language that is now yours."
("Forest of Europe" by Derek Walcott)
Now… dem bound to hear
though dem still don’t see me
mis-naming me daughta of Caliban,
bastard chile of Miranda
when me is none a dat
just me in multiplicity!
me oneness, me own...
although me nuh have nuh face
yet me will roar yuh
mock yuh safety
yuh sureness of self.
Till I and I become de bo in bombo!
eloquent and sacrilegious
yuh will love me yet!
name me right.
When me upset de table at yuh dinner-party
turn over de dutchie pot
off de pimento wood fire
dumpling turn to ashes
caviar nestling in vomit...
Say yeah, a me rule
fire an’ brimstone a fe rain dung ya so!
A weh oonuu tek dis ting fah?
"The small plough continues on this lined page
beyond the moaning ground, the lynching tree,
the tornado's black vengeance,
and the young ploughman feels the change in his veins, heart, muscles,tendons,
till the land lies open like a flag as dawn's sure light streaks the field
and furrows wait for the sower."
("Forty Acres: A Poem for Barack Obama" by Derek Walcott)