from Masks: (i) Libation: (i) Prelude

 
Out
of this
bright
sun, this
white plaque
of heaven,
this leaven-
ing heat
of the seven
kingdoms:
Songhai, Mali,
Chad, Ghana,
Tim-
buctu, Volta,
and the bitter
waste
that was
Ben-
in, comes
this shout
comes
this song.
 
Gong-gongs
throw pebbles in the rout-
ed pools of silence: news
of ripples reach the awakened Zu-
lus: Chaka tastes
the salt blood of the bitter
Congo and all Africa
is one, is whole, nim-
tree shaded in Ghana,
in Chad, Mali,
the shores of the colling kingdoms.
 
Beat heaven
of the drum, beat
the dark leaven
of the dungeon
ground where buds are wrapped
twist-
ed round dancing roots. White
salt crackles at root lips, bursts like a fist
and beats out this
prayer:
 
Nana Firimpong
once you were here
hoed the earth
and left it for me
green rich ready
with yam shoots, the
tuberous smooth of cassava;
 
take the blood of the fowl
drink
take the eto, mashed plantain,
that my women have cooked
eat
and be happy
drink
may you rest
for the year has come round
again.
 
Asase Yaa,
You, Mother of Earth,
on whose soil
I have placed my tools
on whose soil
I will hoe
I will work
the year has come round
again;
 
thirsty mouth of the dust
is ready for water
for seed;
 
drink
and be happy
eat
may you rest
for the year has come round
again.
 
And may the year
this year of all years
be fruitful
beyond the fruit of your labour:
shoots faithful to tip
juice to stem
leaves to green;
 
and may the knife
or the cut-
lass not cut
 
me; roots blunt,
shoots break,
green wither,
 
winds shatter,
damp rot,
hot harm-
 
attan come
drifting in harm
to the crops;
 
the tunnelling
termites not
raise their red
 
monuments, graves,
above the blades
of our labour.
 

part I of Sequence 1 'Libation' from Masks (1968) in The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (OUP, 1973), © Kamau Brathwaite 1968, 1973, used by permission of the author

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1from Masks (i) Libation (i) Prelude

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