Three poems read by Melissa Lalin Briye Beauvery
Trois poèmes lus par Melissa Beauvery (Lalin Briye)
00:00 – Famn Kanson
05:03 – My Grandmother’s Tongue
09:48 – My Vendor (Gason)
Li gen grenn pase berejen She has more seeds than an eggplant.
In her ovaries she holds millions of seeds containing strength, endurance and vigilance.
Secretions of testosterone are in your undergarments.
You rise before the roosters to take on dangerous roads kafou danjere.
You clear the many paths with the deep calluses of your feet.
Each toe gripping the dirt.
The earth is yours, your majesty.
You are Defile, you bury me with dignity
Picking me up when I am left for garbage,
They call you crazy –
Insane for seeing past your gated reality…
The original story teller,
Every line in your palms tells a story as you grip many baskets.
Your troket, the cushion that buffers your crown
and the heavy load you carry.
Your shoulders are erect with pride.
Sprouting from the earth
Your body is the in root of every tree.
No one knows, exactly what is in your heart.
It is on your road, your narrative begins.
Your eyes have seen it all.
But you don’t allow them wander, your head remains regal.
Like the beauty queen that you are –
Senti mare your tied waist, your life line
Cloth vendor, red and blue, my Catherine Flon.
Pieces of brighter tomorrow, pieces of glory –
You make me whole.
Even as you are transported, to bitter cold climates
You never forget yourself.
That grandmother with lines on your face that mirrors
The lines of the most comforting Psalms of a Bible.
In your kitchen, every ingredient creates a memory.
You are the joumou pumpkin vendor on Church Ave in Brooklyn.
If pots could speak, they would say how you struggle
To feed your household –
Your spices would tell how you pinch them with affection.
The sacred leaves of your teas heal every pain:
Nostalgia, melancholy, solitude…
Your devotion is unmatched
Your integrity speaks volumes
Renn Chantrel songstress
You are the luminary of this musical we call life.
Your songs of hope tickle my earlobes.
You are never too weary or terrified to accept any challenge.
Kanson fe Iron pants
Your flaming spirit melts away daily struggle.
Li gen grenn pase berejen
She has more seeds than an eggplant
Your layers of muscle spread thickly throughout your whole being.
With your heart being the strongest-
The arteries that grip your heart are branches in the oldest Mapou trees.
One ! Respe ! Fanm Kanson.
My Grandmother’s Tongue
In her left bosom near her heart of course,
her words are tightly tucked, where secretions of milk once fell
White, like the pages I anticipate to write on,
Like the wedding dress she never had
Like the teeth that was once present
Like her eyes that led me to her in the dark evenings.
Le w pa jwen manman ou tete grann
I wasn’t sure how to find you manman.
But grandma was always there in your absence
Consoling me with colorful phrases inculcated with your tongue of Africa, and those of the colonizers.
That my peoples still strive to speak fluently, but thick lips won’t allow
But to hear grann say, in the sharpest tone:
Vini la tifi, ou pa tande map rele w, pa ranse ave m non
Was more beautiful than any Shakespeare line, any quote from The Raven
Meant more to me than that her attempted phrases in English and French:
I love you sweetheart, tu sais que je t’aime?
You didn’t have to tell me gran because I knew,
Bel fanm neges
(M renmen w)
M renmen w
More than those words can ever illustrate
Than any kiss can ever demonstrate.
As I watch you in front of your pilon
Pounding the spices of love,
Love smelled like onions, garlic and hot pepper
Felt sticky like lwil pa maskreti
Sounded like your giggle when I speak to you in my thick accent
Rete sa blan di la ?
I wanted to keep you with me grann.
Past the trip to the airport, past the American Airlines flight back to New York, past the frigid energy that greets me after leaving you.
I am so proud
Even as I am ridiculed in school, « oh you are Haitian? She’s Haitian! Haitian Booty scratcher! She Has HBO, Haitian Body Odor! »
I was unfazed,
It could’ve been easy to deny, because my tongue shows no traces of you…
But I couldn’t
I admired you too much grann, I wanted to smell like you, a light jasmine, basil and that strong underarm odor.
Your scent more appealing than any French perfume you received on Christmas,
That you decided not to wear.
You smelled like a hard-working woman, your stench perhaps wasn’t acceptable here.
But I only cared to be accepted by you.
So counting the days until summer, until I could be with you
I waited for the tapes you’d send, recording an hour of love
In your beautiful tongue.
I felt your coarse hands
Saw your beautiful dark skin
Your colorful skirts
Your toothless smile
Your short spiked hair
Descriptions of a goddess…
I miss you grann, now that I am older and you have gone anba dlo
I no longer anticipate the summer.
Insomnia has befriended me.
Instead of counting sheep, I count words until I fall asleep
Your words grann, and those you didn’t teach me
Renmen, mabouya, zel, soley, chaloska, chwal, zono cacao, lwil, grenn, zandolit, lestomak, dyol, toutouni, loray, dife, sayle, lawouze, mouchwa, lamidon, kochon, bouji, lalin, lonbrik…
Until I drift off, meeting you in a dream where I am small child holding on to your carabella skirt as if my life depended on it.
There is a shadow in his bouret, the shadow of his skeletal chest –
Inflating, deflating, inflating, deflating with droplets of sweat that trickle
All throughout empty bone spaces on skin, making its way down
To his splendid pelvis –
I hear your song
You. Sugarcane vendor you,
You really know how to sweeten me up.
Despite the look of melancholy engraved on your face.
Or your brisk salutations as you take 5 goud from me
Not even looking into my eyes
Because the fogged red in your once white eyeballs
Tell too much, more than you would ever admit
You will always be my shining knight and armor.
That man that presents himself in my dreams
The man that helps me regain balance when I trip on cracked streets of Potoprens
Without even expecting a thank you
Your load, heavier than anyone could imagine.
Too much for any bouret to carry, that you carry.
Because no one else will.
I know that you sometimes cry in the dark corridors.
With a Comme Il Faut as the only thing that brushes against your lips at night.
You would offer any woman the world if you could.
If it was in your fate, your destiny, heck! Your heritage
Grunts as you push your bouret through the crowded streets of the city.
That has been dismantled before your eyelids.
But still, offer that sweetness. You, sugarcane vendor.
Ou fe m dous
You spend your long days cutting cane with flies as your only companion.
Grunt to cover the words to wish to say as you pass a brother of yours.
That has the same grievance but you don’t dare share a word.
There are no group therapy sessions or doctor Phils here.
A shot of kleren maybe
A lit candle maybe
A plea to the ancestors perhaps.
But listen to the ringing of bells.
So magical, so alluring
The shoeshiner is now ringing his bell
With his shirt pressed against his flesh soaked with juices of many past lives
A sound of the bell so immaculate mirrors the sound of the cathedral at noon!
The sound of God is in your fingertips you! shoe shiner you!
Illuminate my path!
Your bench is a throne fit for the highest of kings.
In your rags the deepest secrets of the underworld
Ou konnen soulye se sekey
You know all of the dreadful waters.
The waters for all colored shoes.
You’ve seen muddy trails
And tired feet that have traveled all throughout Haiti.
Where you’ve helped shelter corns and bunions of calloused hearts.
But yet you offer that brilliance on shoes for those who look down on the ground with
Chins that stay pressed on their chest.
But tell me.
Who will carry you sugarcane vendor, shoe shiner?
Who will carry you?
Who will illuminate your path?
Who will make love to you?
like an infant,
I would securely hold you to my bosom.
Where heartbeats become music
If only you would let me –
Because I know your pride is all that you have
I would rock you and sing my song for you
This time ring a bell for you just once.
Because you deserve it –
So that you can finally sleep
Where contained dreams burst,
Moistening your pillowcase creating a reality you’ve always wanted.
« Fanm Kanson, » « My Grandmother’s Tongue » and « My Vendor, » by Melissa Beauvery are poems written in 2010 (« My Grandmother’s Tongue ») and 2011.
Reproduced here with permission by the author, they appear on her spoken word CD, My Grandmother’s Tongue
© 2012 Melissa Lalin Briye Beauvery, tous droits réservés