The Visibility Trigger

Kamau Brathwaite

and so they came up over the reefs


up the creeks & rivers

oar prong put-put

hack tramp silence


and i was dreaming near morning


i offered you a kola nut

your fingers huge & smooth & red

and you took it your dress makola blue


and you broke it into gunfire


the metal was hot & jagged

it was as if the master of bronze

had poured anger into his cauldron


and let it spit spit sputter

and it was black spark green in my face

it was as if a maggot had slapped me in the belly


and i had gone soft like the kneed of my wife's bread


i could hear salt leaking out of the black hole of kaneshie

i could hear grass growing around the edges of the green lake

i could hear stalactites ringing in my cave of vision


bats batting my eyes shut

their own eyes howling like owls in the dead dark


and they marched into the village

and our five unready virginal elders met them


bowl calabash oil carafe of fire silence


and unprepared & venerable I was dreaming mighty wind in trees

out circles talismans round hut round village cooking pots


yam cassava groundnut sweetpea bush

and then it was yams again


birth child hunter warrior

and the breath


that is no more


which is birth which is child which is hunter which is warrior

which is breath


that is no more


and they brought sticks rods roads bullets straight objects


birth was not breath

but gaping wound


hunter was not animal

but market sale


warrior was child

that is no more


and I beheld the cotton tree

guardian of graves rise upward from its monument of grass


crying aloud in its vertical hull

calling for crashes of branches vibrations of leaves


there was a lull of silver


and then the great grandfather gnashing upwards from its teeth

of roots.  split down its central thunder


the stripped violated wood crying aloud its murder, the


frontier signals alive with lamentations


and our great odoum

triggered at last by the ancestors into your visibility



into history

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