Calendrier Lagunaire

by Aimé Césaire (1913-2008), Martinican poet, December 1981.

I dwell in a sacred wound
I dwell in imaginary ancestors
I dwell in an obscure desire
I dwell in a long silence
I dwell in an unquenchable thirst
I dwell in a thousand-year journey
I dwell in a three hundred years war
I dwell in a disaffected cult
between bulb and bud I dwell in the unused space
I dwell in basalt not a flow
but the billow of lava
which sweeps up the gulley
and burns all the mosques
I adapt as best I can to this avatar
of a version of paradise absurdly come to naught
– far worse than hell –
Sometimes I dwell in one of my wounds
Every minute I change my apartment
and all respite terrifies me
whirlwind of fire
ascidia like no other for dust
of worlds gone astray
having spat out, a volcano, my entrails of spring we
I remain with my words of bread and my secret ores
So I dwell in a vast mind
but I usually prefer to confine myself
in the smallest of my ideas
or else I dwell in a magic formula
the first words only
all the rest forgotten
I dwell in the ice pack
I dwell in its débâcle
I dwell in the front of a great disaster
I dwell more often in the driest pap
of the gauntest pinnacle – the she-wolf of these clouds –
I dwell in the halo of the cacti
I dwell in a herd of she-goats drawing
on the teat of the most desolate sideroxylon
Truly I no longer know my true address
Bathyal or abyssal
I dwell in the holes of octopuses
I struggle with an octopus for an octopus hole
Brother lay off
Heap of kelp
Clinging like cuscuta
or unfurling myself like porana
It’s all the same
and let the waves swell
and let the sun blister
and let the wind lash
round hump of my nothingness
The pressure, atmospheric or rather
historic is mounting my pain beyond measure
even if it makes some of my words magnificence.


From The Unesco Courier, and published online at the UNESCO website under a creative commons license: CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO


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