The Woman and the Flame

- 1913-2008
A bit of light that descends the springhead of a gaze
twin shadow of the eyelash and the rainbow on a face
and round about
who goes there angelically
Woman the current weather
the current weather matters little to me
my life is always ahead of a hurricane
you are the morning that swoops down on the lamp a night stone 
   between its teeth
you are the passage of seabirds as well
you who are the wind through the salty ipomeas of consciousness
insinuating yourself from another world
you are a dragon whose lovely color is dispersed and darkens so 
   as to constitute the
inevitable tenor of things
I am used to brush fires
I am used to ashen bush rats and the bronze ibis of the flame
Woman binder of the foresail gorgeous ghost
helmet of algae of eucalyptus
                                 dawn isn't it
                                 and in the abandon of the ribbands
                                 very savory swimmer

More by Aimé Césaire

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land [excerpt]

   At the end of daybreak. . .
   Beat it, I said to him, you cop, you lousy pig, beat it, 
I detest the flunkies of order and the cockchafers of hope. 
Beat it, evil grigri, you bedbug of a petty monk. Then I turned 
toward paradises lost for him and his kin, calmer than the face 
of a woman telling lies, and there, rocked by the flux of a 
never exhausted thought I nourished the wind, I unlaced the 
monsters and heard rise, from the other side of disaster, a 
river of turtledoves and savanna clover which I carry forever 
in my depths height-deep as the twentieth floor of the most 
arrogant houses and as a guard against the putrefying force 
of crepuscular surroundings, surveyed night and day by a cursed 
venereal sun.

   At the end of daybreak burgeoning with frail coves, the hungry 
Antilles, the Antilles pitted with smallpox, the Antilles dyn-
amited by alcohol, stranded in the mud of this bay, in the dust 
of this town sinisterly stranded.

   At the end of daybreak, the extreme, deceptive desolate eschar 
on the wound of the waters; the martyrs who do not bear witness; 
the flowers of blood that fade and scatter in the empty wind 
like the screeches of babbling parrots; an aged life mendacious-
ly smiling, its lips opened by vacated agonies; an aged poverty 
rotting under the sun, silently; an aged silence bursting with 
tepid pustules,
   the awful futility of our raison d'être.

   At the end of daybreak, on this very fragile earth thickness 
exceeded in a humiliating way by its grandiose future—the vol-
canoes will explode, the naked water will bear away the ripe 
sun stains and nothing will be left but a tepid bubbling pecked 
at by sea birds—the beach of dreams and the insane awakening.

   At the end of daybreak, this town sprawled-flat, toppled from 
its common sense, inert, winded under its geometric weight of 
an eternally renewed cross, indocile to its fate, mute, vexed 
no matter what, incapable of growing with the juice of this 
earth, self-conscious, clipped, reduced, in breach of fauna 
and flora.