Water is the first thing in my imagination.
– Dionne Brand
He has to take most of his men away from here in chains, 6 men chained together by the neck, because they desert before starting
– Francis Hall
Before I learned to love the sparseness of acacia trees, my memory was green. Before I embraced a savanna aesthetic.
I have been thinking about land and soil
about the green that grounds me
trying to write away from land hunger
from claims to belonging
from water imaginations
(how land can
Acacias are sparse, sparing, inhabiting a form I would come to relish, the single line on a page, the hardness that, initially, seems so fragile (and, was it
that they gave me
the memory of water
I wonder if we who
can no longer write of home
in all our geographies
What is return to not-home?
police procedurals teach me that anti-social people do not put anything on their walls. After I learn this, I refuse to hang anything on my walls. I need the
s p a c e
Green is the color of my true.love’s.hair.
Touch me, touch me,
Little cool grass fingers,
Elusive, delicate grass fingers. – Angelina Weld Grimké
One could write about the varieties of green, but I crave its repetitions, not its variations. I don’t want green to have three hundred names. I want it to persist.
Am I attached to its inevitable loss?
Is green the color of melancholia?
Q: What have you been doing?
a: I have been learning how not to arrive.
The thing is that I think Blacks in the Diaspora carry the Door of No Return in our senses. It is a passport which, after boarding the plane, we are unable to make disappear by tearing it up and throwing it into the toilet. We arrive with its coat of arms, its love know, its streamers, its bugle, its emblems attesting to our impossible origins.
– Dionne Brand
(we used to laugh at those who affected accents, how much more
those who have learned to claim
how I learn
to figure myself
to figure oneself as diasporic: to be figured as diasporic
figuration is grounding abstraction: a thing to think with, a thing to be about and around, perhaps the only possible grounding
I am trying to narrate a happening, a presenting that can never be fully apprehensible, as with all presentings.
the diasporic presented with deracination.
– Dionne Brand
To be black in the diaspora might be to ask questions that never need a question mark.
one extends into belonging (and dissolution)
Wambui tells me about making soil better, healthier, richer: a soil imagination based on care and practice.
a soil imagination the black diasporic can inhabit:
the labor diaspora can un/do
I have been asking deracination to un/do, to/do, to make (poiesis) a green imagination possible.
When you embark on a journey, you have already arrived. The world you are going to is already in your head. You have already walked in it, eaten in it; you have already made friends; a lover is already waiting. – Dionne Brand
I continue to borrow words, not yet sure what words can suffice to name this remembered longing for green.
what one remembers
what one longs to remember
how one remembers
how one longs to remember
how one longs
even for longing
And they punished him for being still alive.
– Edmond Jabès
the unfamiliarity of a now-refurbished childhood home
the unfamiliarity that we call a childhood home.
And the poetry of return:
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. (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land)
The accumulations of the years that burn,
White forge-like fires within my haunted brain (“America in Retrospect”)
To arrive at dawn on a world where you have departed nighttime (or day-time—no matter) from some spot on that same world is to enter a welter of possibilities. (Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand)
into new silence
dips on my horizon
the name of a cherished dream
riding my anchor
one sweet season
to cast off
on another voyage (“Smelling the Wind”)
Echoes taste of here-not-here. New views from familiar windows. (tea tastes familiar, with a hint of spice, but musty: my mother’s spices have always stayed too long; I come to throw away spices, grind new flavors into possibility
the billboards look larger
the roads feel smoother
green shades into echoes of itself
If I now write of terroir, I mean the shape of banana leaves, the tender bruises of mouth-rich avocado