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BREAKING SEA CHAINS

i went back. i returned to Haiti so they would not have to live like that... i went so they would not have to leave like that again, but the American general, with eyes in his head like stones, said: "When you goin' back to Connecticut?"

See over there, staring at the stretch of watery grave ahead, a father trembles as he says goodbye to his papa and three young sons.

i want to go with you, i want to go with you
, said his eldest son, pi gran la, mimicking what was just said by Granpapa.

You're too young,
the father tells his eldest son. Take care of Mama, Sisterwoman, and Babygirl -TiSoeur. And Papa, you're too old. i'll take care of things. i'll break our chains, the father chokes, stepping onto the overloaded ship, losing his balance on a farewell salute, consumed by the crushing throng, the howling waves and the goodbye cries all around.

i went back so they would not have to leave like that again, but the American general, with eyes in his head like stones, said: When you goin' back to Connecticut?

it's been five years now, the father has long since fed the sharks. The sea was his bloody tomb. Granpapa died of a broken heart when he heard about his Number One son. Mama prays, Babygirl starves and Sisterwoman sells her body... to feed them... from time to time.

And today, Martin Luther King's Day, the eldest son stands on his father's faraway shore. He wants to break the chains. He doesn't know what to do. And he trembles as he says goodbye to his two younger brothers.

i want to go with you, i want to go with you,
Brother Number Two heatedly tells pi gran la, the eldest one, mimicking what was just said by Lil' One.

You're too young Lil' One, says the eldest one. And frè mwen, brother-mine, you must stay. Take care of Mama - Mamman-nou, Babygirl - TiSoeur, watch out for Sisterwoman and visit Granpapa's grave. I'll break our chains, Brother Number One chokes, stepping onto the overloaded ship, losing his balance on a farewell salute, consumed by the crushing throng, the howling waves and the goodbye cries all around.

i went back so they would not have to leave like that again, but the American general, with eyes in his head like stones, said: When you goin' back to Connecticut?

That was yesterday. Two days 'fore Christmas, son Number One, premye pitit la, was interdicted, apprehended by the U.S. Coast Guard. And while the good public were lining up for the latest Tickle Me Elmo breakout toys, son Number One jumped overboard, drowning, 'stead of returning to the life of a curled up breathing stiff with no shoes.

Praying Mama died of a broken heart when she heard 'bout her Number One son. There was no more room left inside Mama to wrap up more pain 'n suffering 'n howling numbness. Husband gone, eldest son gone and young Sisterwoman's throat slashed by a customer not long ago.

Prone and quiet, Sisterwoman's body don't feed no one now.

But in her living years, unwashed by the space that turns an ocean into a ditch, she crossed her own seas, was reborn in her own waters. She pushed the tide wide, alternating between suffering and expanding. She wouldn't yield. She was the too loud wave, beating it at its own game, too versed in the up and down motion's curves. She was too liquid to be swept away, too Black, too stacked, too electric, elastic, fertile, WOMAN... and assertive, too. All that! Sisterwoman left her waterfalls - six babies behind. And today, Babygirl - TiSoeur, sells her body... to feed them... from time to time.

And the claws of another century unwinds. Everlasting Brother Number Two stands on his brother's faraway shore. He wants to break the chains. Mama dead, Papa dead, eldest brother dead, Sisterwoman dead, Granpapa's tomb full of memories' weeds - asylum, amnesty and justice denied his kind. And he trembles as he says goodbye to his youngest brother, Lil' One, who's in a jeep boogieing down those Martin and Malcolm Boulevards, intravenously taking in the cheap stuff.


i'll break our chains, Brother Two chokes, stepping onto the overloaded ship, losing his balance on a farewell salute, consumed by the crushing throng, the howling waves and the goodbye cries all around. But just before the anchor is cut, just a second ago, Brother Two saw Lil' One's gone too, street-fucked, splattered by gunfire, shot by that new U.S. trained "Cop," driving by in an ol' white U.N. truck. The streets was Lil' One's bloody tomb.

i went back so they would not have to DIE like that again, but the American general, with eyes in his head like stones, said: When are you goin' back to Connecticut?

And the Atlantic waves rattle on for more, obsessed with the taste of Africa's blood. it closes in, waiting for everlasting Babysister's little ones.

Leap. Go on. Leap. LEAP!

i'm
Lil' One in a jeep and a hundred million other ones gone. Beep, beep, beep, i haven't taken care of anyone. i want to break the chains. i don't know what to do. i'm dying too on this faraway shore's heaping stew.....where the Long Island debris is Sisterwoman's algae.


And the Atlantic rattles for more, obsessed with the taste of Mocha blood ever since Africa's Middle Passage's mud. it closes in, blasting our ruby flood to pieces, or to bourgeois blue.

And i do nothing. Do nothing 'cept...go back where i met the leering imperial eye, beached there, whistling back Dixie. Himself suffused in Sisterwoman's algae, but who said: When are you goin' back to Connecticut?

****

 

(c) 1997 Ezili Dantò. Excerpted from The Red, Black & Moonlight monologue series, based on Kenbe La! Crossings of a Vodun-Roots Woman by Ezili Dantò. All rights reserved.

*

(See also Intro to Breaking Sea Chains and Video of performances at RBM Video Reel and Miami Video Reel.)

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