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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti: Feeding Our Children the Sun

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In honor of the resilient and brave people of Haiti, here's a poem by a master poet and lover of her people everywhere, Ntozake Shange.

Bocas: A Daughter's Geography
by Ntozake Shange

i have a daughter/ mozambique
i have a son/ angola
our twins
salvador & johannesburg/ cannot speak
the same language
but we fight the same old men/ in the new world

we are so hungry for the morning
we're trying to feed our children the sun
but a long time ago/ we boarded ships/ locked in
depths of seas our spirits/ kisst the earth
on the atlantic side of nicaragua costa rica
our lips traced the edges of cuba puerto rico
charleston & savannah/ in haiti
we embraced &
made children of the new world
but old men spit on us/ shackled our limbs
but for a minute
our cries are the panama canal/ the yucatan
we poured thru more sea/ more ships/ to manila
ah ha we're back again
everybody in manila awready speaks spanish

the old men sent for the archbishop of canterbury
"can whole continents be excommunicated?"
"what wd happen to the children?"
"wd their allegiance slip over the edge?"
"don't worry bout lumumba/ don't even think bout
ho chi minh/ the dead cant procreate"
so say the old men
but I have a daughter/ la habana
I have a son/ guyana
our twins
santiago & brixton/ cannot speak
the same language
yet we fight the same old men

the ones who think helicopters rhyme with hunger
who think patrol boats can confiscate a people
the ones whose dreams are full of none of our
children
they see mae west & harlow in whittled white cafes
near managua/ listening to primitive rhythms in
jungles near pétionville
with bejeweled benign natives
ice skating in abidjan
unaware of the rest of us in chicago
all the dark urchins
rounding out the globe/ primitively whispering
the earth is not flat old men

there is no edge
no end to the new world
cuz I have a daughter/ trinidad
I have a son/ san juan
our twins
capetown & palestine/ cannot speak the same
language/ but we fight the same old men
the same men who thought the earth waz flat
go on over the edge/ go on over the edge old men
you'll see us in luanda, or the rest of us
in chicago
rounding out the morning/
we are feeding our children the sun

From A DAUGHTER'S GEOGRAPHY (St. Martin's Press, 1983)

Please click here to see photos of Haiti and the aftermath of the earthquake. Also, click on the links that show "how to help."

2 comments:

(im)perfect_black ☥☥☥ said...

thanks for that one. numb right now. i feel so bad for my many haitian friends. kzs

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Kwame,

I too am feeling bad for our Haitian brothers and sisters. I keep thinking of one of my students from the summer who is so very bright. I hope and pray that her family and friends are well. I'm going to look her up to see how she's doing.
Peace,
alicia