DOUENS

Chike Pilgrim

We’s Douens 
weird 
bend foot addendums.
Jealous of attention 
dwellers in Douendom 

Tension since Toussaint won, 
sentences can’t mention 
women we depend on for de scent of redemption.

At a river eating crayfish 
slave ships, spaceships 
raving, nameless, babies, 
blameless. 

No christening from Christendom, 
who also forgot to claim us, 
What a pity! With a pittance, 
floating down a river aimless. 

The soul shivers. 
A sliver of a human, 
a Nubian, a nigger. 

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabacthani 
running backwards, and backwards, 
from pot-hounds attacking we. 

Dripping water on pages, 
going though de stages, 
blind and deaf and dumb, 
broad smiles on de faces. 

Yes, we wear a mask 
worn out by the task 
of presenting dusky skins
to the muskets when they asked. 

Tracking back, tacking back 
from Icacos, to Marac, 
Trou Macaque to Diego Martin, 
marching, and marching.
 
Marching, and marching, 
do de damned get a pardon? 
Marching and marching, 
to beg! For piece of plantain. 

Daylight come and we wan’ leave plantation, 
Daylight come
are we done? With de bargaining? 

Daylight come, and we no longer owned. 
Daylight come and we wanna go home. 

In we queffen, no question, 
several lessons in downpression. 
So clever feet leave impressions, 
Hunters head wrong directions. 

Come and play! 
in de clay! 
Ma doh want we, jumbies mount we. 
Now we catching birds with laglee, 
and we staying by Ma Lambee 

Aborted sons and daughters 
deported and gawked at. 
Dancing with no pants on 
caught on camera in a straw hat. 

Walk on hand, see with ears, 
listen eyes, feet in air. 
Shaking! We derrière 
Until a feathered snake appears! 
Like a faced fear 
like a trail of tears
we only place
is Here. 

Running through the jungle, 
naked as we born, 
we laughing till de morning 
pitching marble with de fauns! 

Slipping off shoes, slipping off in canoes, 
peeing on marble statues 
Licking salt from a bruise. 
At the refuge for the abused. 

There we stay and we play, 
playing Devil Double Dutch. 

Two eye blank
at de bank, 
Douen drinking such and such.
 

One day, dis day go done, 
one day tomorrow go come, 
and we go wander… 
out de mangrove, 
and at last taste de sun. 

Den dem people 
who 
steal babies, 
better careful! when we call, 

and dem children, 
who 
so greedy! 
should prepare to share 
de ball.

Chike Pilgrim is an Oxford-educated archaeologist, and a writer and historian from Trinidad and Tobago. His creative work has been published in Kwani Magazine, one of Africa’s most prominent literary magazines, as well as in Moko and The Caribbean Writer, two of the Caribbean’s top literary journals. He has featured prominently as a spoken-word artist and rapso performer, being a two-time finalist at the Bocas Lit Fest’s National Poetry Slam. 

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