Lost Body

co-translated with Annette Smith
from Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry, University of California
Press, 1983.

I who Krakatoa
I who everthing better than a monsoon
I who open shest
I who Laelaps
I who bleat better than a cloaca
I who outside the musical scale
I who Zambezi or frantic or rhombos or cannibal
I would like to be more and more humble and more lowly
always more serious without vertigo or vestige
to the point of losing myself falling
into the live semolina of a well-opened earth
Outside in lieu of atmosphere there'd be a beautiful haze no dirt in it
each drop of water forming a sun there
whose name the same for all things
so that one would no longer know what goes by
-a star or a hope
or a petal from the flamboyant tree
or an underwater retreat
raced across by the flaming torches of aurelian jellyfish
Then I imagine life would flood my whole being
better still I would feel it touching me or biting me
lying down I would see the finally free odors come to me
like merciful hands
finding their way
to sway their long hair in me
longer than this past that I cannot reach.
Things stand back make room among you
room for my repose carrying in waves
my frightening crest of anchor-like roots
looking for a place to take hold
Things I probe I probe
me the street-porter I am root-porter
and I bear down and I force and I arcane
I omphale
Ah who leads me back toward the harpoons
I am very weak
I hiss yes I hiss very ancient things
I whoa lie down wind
and against my unstable and fresh muzzle
against my eroded face
press you cold face of ravaged laughter
The wind alas I will continue to hear it
nigger nigger nigger from the depths
of the timeless sky
a little less loud than today
but still too loud
and this crazed howling of dogs and horses
which it thrusts at our forever fugitive heels
but I in turn in the air
shall rise a scream so violent
that I shall splatter the whole sky
and with my branches torn to shreds
and with the insolent jet of my wounded and solemn bole

I shall command the islands to be