Jamaïque

One Love in children born
from a mother’s voice calm as a river
in Ghana; a father’s hands rough
as Scotland’s shale; a brother’s arms
strong as bamboo from Shaanxi ; a sister’s
shoulders resilient as banyans from Nepal.

One Love is whispering streams,
waving ferns, winding roads through green
valleys that surprise
with a drop into turquoise waters.

One Love is the fathers and mothers
who every day harvest food and drink
for their children from the bounty
of the earth and evergiving sea.

One Love is a people in the midst
of blue mountains and orange sunsets
who stitch together sun and rain
into a thundering silence
to soothe our minds and souls.

One Love is to have known pain,
yet refusing to surrender to sorrow,
and abandoning ourselves to joy.

One Love is the spirit in which we live
One Love

Geoffrey Philp

When you find yourself in a faraway land
surrounded by men, animals that mutter strange
sounds, do not be afraid: neither you, your parents,

nor your ancestors have ever been alone.
So trust the earth to bear you up, follow
the wind as it leads you through valleys

clustered with trees heavy with fruit –
some that seem familiar enough to eat,
but you still aren’t sure they are the same

as the ones you left on the other side
of the river that you’ve now forgotten.
Eat. Feast on the bounty. Feed the fire

that burns away the knot in your stomach,
sets ablaze the horizon, all that your eyes
can see – that has been promised to you

since your cry pierced the morning air:
your parents bathed you with kisses,
baptized you with caresses,
swaddled you in care before you uttered
your first words to the moon, sun, stars,
wobbled your first steps into unknowing –

all the while rising into your inheritance.
And if you awaken under the branches of a cotton tree,
cradled in its roots, draw a circle around yourself

and all those whom you love, cross
yourself three times before you step
over the threshold. Welcome the ancestors,

all the kindly spirits who have followed you,
your parents across many seas, oceans,
and deserts; entertain them with strong drink

and soft food: rice, yams, bananas, the ever
present rum to bless the hands that have lifted
you up, and sanctified the place you now call home.

Geoffrey Philp

From Dub Wise (Peepal Tree, 2011), ©

Ma sœur,
sous un fouillis de lingeries,
a dérobé ce cadeau
aux ardents rayons X de la douane
et a mis en gage son nom
sur le registre, sa signature
précise comme les sillons
du bout de ses doigts.
Le flacon est resté caché
sur l’étagère avec, de mon oncle,
la collection de pierres de l’étang
où il pêchait ses terreux reflets désabusés
avant que les bars ne lui bouffent le foie ;
avec les épines que ma tante garda
chaque fois qu’elle sauva son mariage.
Le flacon est resté dissimulé derrière les vins
bon marché réservés aux puddings
de Noël, tel un célibataire
dans un hôtel de tantes restées
vieilles filles. Je brûlais de goûter
son moelleux, la senteur
des cassettes de cèdre, de la rouille,
j’en imprégnais les auréoles de ma langue
et les cordes de ma gorge,
jusqu’au fond de mes os,
embrassant la noirceur
comme les chauves-souris boivent le crépuscule
dans leur maîtrise de l’air ;
une spirale d’ailes
par-dessus un jaillissement d’hibiscus
martelant la paroi de ma poitrine,
à travers le cercle de peau
mince comme les membranes de mes art-
ères dans l’étroite cage de mes mains.

Geoffrey Philp

Traduit et adapté de l’anglais par Jean-Marie Flémal.

Copyright © by Geoffrey Philp

L’original

JOHN CROW BATTY

My sister
smuggled this gift
through custom’s fiery x-rays
under a web of lingerie,
mortgaging her name
on ledgers ; her signature
precise as the whorls
of her fingertips.
The bottle remained hidden
on the shelf with my uncle’s
collection of rocks from the pond
where he fished his stony reflection
until bars swallowed his liver,
thorns my aunt kept
everytime she saved her marriage.
It lurked behind cheap
wines, destined for puddings
at Christmas, a bachelor
in a hotel of spinstered
aunts. I longed to savor
its smoothness, the taste
of cedar caskets, rust,
seared the aureoles of my tongue
and rope of my throat,
to the pit of my spine,
embracing the darkness
like bats drink twilight
in their mastery of air ;
a spiral of wings
over a burst of hibiscus,
battering the wall of my chest
through the circle of skin
thin as the membranes of my art-
eries into the small cage of my hands.

Copyright © by Geoffrey Philp

Avec l’aimable autorisation de l’auteur

Geoffrey Philp (www.geoffreyphilp.com) est l’auteur de Twelve Poems and A Story for Christmas et du roman Benjamin, My Son. Ses poèmes et ses nouvelles ont été publiés dans The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse et The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories (Anthologies oxfordiennes de poésie caraïbe et de nouvelles caraïbes).

(*) Une variété de rhum jamaïcain, très brun, très fort, appelé également « rhum JB ». « John Crow » est le surnom des vautours que l’on voit survoler la Jamaïque. « Batty » = « butt » = cul, postérieur.