01 February 2014

"Caribbean Crossings, In Motion"

"Ancestral Rage" - Oil Pastel by Angelique V. Nixon

To the Caribbean, with love...


"Caribbean Crossings, In Motion"

by Angelique V. Nixon

"What is the Caribbean in fact? A multiple series of relationships. We feel it, we express it in all kinds of hidden or twisted ways, or fiercely deny it. But we sense that this sea exists within us with its weight of now revealed islands." - Edouard Glissant, Caribbean Discourse 


Under the surface, bursting
in my bloodlines
these genes of rememory
Trinidad feels like home

maybe I know here – this place
this space of my ancestors
I want to know about their lives,
my maternal great grandparents

what did they experience in these streets,
in these hills of Port of Spain, whispering to me
finally, you have returned,
we have been waiting

I know they moved to Inagua, Bahamas
these lines of African descent
movements across and inside
the Caribbean Sea, stories lost in motion

all I have is this picture of my great-gramma
in my head, a photograph mummy carried of you,
tall, poised, proud in brown flesh, long arms heavy
with salt, eyes full of wisdom, stature full of strength,
mouth curved and hard, from the experiences of your life

I will never know
but can wonder and imagine you,
wield you into an existence,
if only in my mind, if only on this page

these words come to me,
mummy telling me about you,
how you loved and held her up through
hard times, dreaming you into being,

the stories, these Caribbean gifts
of Anancy magic, walking with spirit
in this place, where I make sense
my face, my mix-up Blackness
my fyah, woman loving, cosmic warrior self.


Jamaica, knows me
before I reach, get to know her
I was here before

by way of spirit, perhaps
through ancestors, for sure
my paternal great-grandfather
I hear much later through lost stories

moved to Nassau, Bahamas from Jamaica
by way of China, details submerged
like his memory

gramma born out of wedlock
these lines of Chinese descent
messy and spoken in secret shame
yet his blood rebukes this silence

haunting generations
mixed with great-grandmother’s
blurry ancestry and hushed tones

of Blackness, hidden through light-skin,
straight hair and light eyes,
separated from brown skin siblings,
these lines create forgetting

I trace myself back
through the streets of Kingston
seeing reflections, in motion

red, Black-Chiney, brown, mango skin, woman, sun kissed,
Bahamagal potcake, to make sense in this place,
rooting self in Reasonings at Blackspace, Woodside,
we people of the African Diaspora

I rememory for all of us (African, Asian, Indigenous)
diving into all we darkness
to make sense of we stories.


Caribbean spaces of here and there, crossings,
linked through shared horrors and struggles, histories/herstories
(conquest, removal, slavery, the middle passage, death, plantation, 
labour, indentureship, another passage, colonization, control, 
migration, extraction, detention, occupation)

yet our differences, our uniqueness,
we be struggling still for emancipation
of our minds, bodies, and spaces

beyond geo-political-graphic location
spatially expanding, Caribbean communities
and identities striving to become whole
at home and abroad, rising with the tides

connective tissue around all these spaces
fiery mix up of people, cultures, languages
yet we twisted into silence and divisions
that serve us no longer

remember, the sea and bush know, we secrets
stories of defiance, strength, battles, rebels, trouble makers,
resistance, crossing lines of color, status, sex, and place,
from the magic of Boukman to Nanny and the Maroons
and Morant Bay Rebellion to the Grenadian Revolution

when we fought against slave masters, colonial walls, and oppression
fighting for we stolen lives, stolen stories, stolen resources
carving spaces for independence and self determination

but we still just surviving
when we need to thrive
and recreate we spaces to be

as complex and ever-changing as we see
interplay of being in motion – the past being ever present –
forging a future that is ours and free.

"We Resist" - Word Art, Oil Pastel by Angelique V. Nixon

for our blood, mixed
soon with their passion in sport,  

in indifference, in anger,
will create new soils, new souls, new
ancestors; will flow like this tide fixed

to the star by which this ship floats
to new worlds, new waters, new
harbours, the pride of our ancestors mixed 

with the wind and the water
the flesh and the flies, the whips and the fixed
fear of pain in this chained and welcoming port.

~ Kamau Brathwaite “New World A-Comin”


Tico said...

This poem blew me away. This captures exactly how I feel about the region. Love, Love, Love it.

Angelique said...

Thank you!

Malaika said...

Your poem is absolutely incredible. It flows so beautiful across spaces, drawing connections and conjuring memories. why does it make me feel that the cross-caribbean heritage of us is rarely ever spoken of or not something that i have witnessed much in writing?

Angelique said...

Thank you Malaika! And yeah I feel too that these cross-cultural linkages across the region must be spoken more. There are too many silences... and divisions among us... we need more reminders of our connections.

juanki said...

I love your pastel "Ancestral Rage"! It really looks like pebbles under water glimmering water with your signature red tearing through it so fierce. Love the art! Love your poem! Gramma pumps her fist

Angelique said...

:) Thank you! Juan!! <3