Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Citadel, 1974

after a mural in port-au-prince by alexandre was

from the pic of le cap where the citadel sits
the arawaks wait
the fleshes of their headdress are stairs up the montagne

the rings of the palm trees are bells up the montagne
toussaint is a zemi
he stares from the flesh of stone

the white of the helmet, columbus conquistador
the white of the sword
becomes lightning

the steel of the cutlass
the knife of the god
the thongs of the whips

drink water like trees
africaines from the slave ships
dance out of the riflemen’s loins

become dessalines dessalines
la crete-a-pierrot
the spangle of death from the hot

of lianes
and christophe columbus climbs up to his mountain top
with the face of his horse in the faith of his shadow

he stumbles on priest on an african slave on a spaniard
the places of pain become pig snouts
the black becomes white becomes black becomes rain

falling to plunder the roof
of the world
toussaint is a zemi

he stares from the stone from the eye
lids of flame
at his fate.

From Edward Kamau Brathwaite, “Third World Poems,” The Massachusetts Review, 15 no. 1/2, Caliban (Winter-Spring, 1974), pp. 73-74

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