Rolling on rhythmically. M ap boule,
M ap kenbe, Mwen la, Nou la! Nou lan lalit. Kenbe la. Kenbe rèd.
Let's roll on out of here. Haitians have these special greetings, ok?
if you ask Haitians how they are doing? They'll say: M ap boule, M ap
kenbe, M ap lite, Mwen La, Nou la, Nou lan lalit, Kenbe la, Kenbe rèd,
Kenbe fèm! Those are all possible responses to the question Ki
jan ou ye? (How are you?) See, even the way we greet and say goodbye
to one another tells the whole story of our life experiences. M ap
boule, literally means, "i'm on fire" or "i'm rolling through the
Ki jan ou ye?
Nou la means we are here, present. Ki jan ou ye?
Nou lan lalit. N ap lite.
Nou lan lalit or n ap lite means i'm struggling. Struggling
and resistance is the Haitian way. But we do it rhythmically. M ap boule,
m ap boule.
Grann, se ou menm ki la? is that you there?
Here's the news flash: that video lens sees the quivering lips,
Tina Turner orange lipstick, tight jeans, curves and long fingernails.
But not the fledgling but well cultivated inner life. i had to put it
in this papyrus form. Etched it in obtrusive raw black ink to come out
i would learn. in ever greater detail from that autumnal
equinox moment on, that though Mr. Western Culture and
his Ambassadors write love, laws and Constitutions. They're mostly too
high tech to live love.
Sank me back to that autumn day and i'll say i knew. Even then. Only
an arcane mindset with ideas having no blood in them could be telling
a Black girl she's inferior to her face 'cause of her "race."
That's the intellect with a tradition of mouthing. Complete with harp
and violin. Sentimental ideals of liberty and equality while propping
up oppression, misogyny, rape, exclusion, genocide and the death of
This, His symphony. An unmelodious rock-a-billy. A hootin' jig of fear
and favor. Hypnotically snares my sort into riding on the scorpions'
back - entirely collaborating in, reproducing, our own victimization.
i do this when i stoically and blithely accept Messrs-Let's-Hoard-It-All's
false generosity - his shining spotless self-image and dead words -
as the height of human ingenuity and evolution. i do this when i reject
his dead words but stay cordial, battle on his turf; salve Messrs-Let's-Hoard-It-All's
conscience for him. Like King Sisyphus, my ancestors, the foresufferers,
we turtles, we are condemned to roll uphill, up streams on moral high
ground, reproducing our ancient role as re-imager. Always to have elitist
rocks, like the foaming white waves of systemic biological fatalisms
- racism, sexism, age-ism, original sin-ism - roll down again on us,
drowning us....to the beat ya'll of "Can't we all get along?"
But who can blame us?
His nightingale song is sweet.
Sit back and watch it on TV.
it's gloriously scientific.
Technologically stunning. "Objective" no less.
Strange thing then, on an autumn day, confronted with Hades, i couldn't
sop up, inhale and warm myself in the fires of contradictions betwixt
ideals and acts - in the intellectual dishonesty in schools, governments,
democratic assemblies and in the spiritual tomes. in that clouded but
opalescent instant. Questions i had gestating in me crumbled. Collided
together and de-leafed me of childlike trust. Crushed and startled by
a hyperconsciousness centered first on race. Then on gender. Life would
be revealed as a palimpsest painting: as i focussed on one reality the
other familiar portrait on top receded.
A season for me was extinguished.
For an eternity after inside me felt violet bluish. Raw from the strain
of being naked in a colorless winter. Going about sans milky
fur, cascading down without connection, jumping about to stop the hard
frost, fitting new notes together, gustily munching away strange tunes
and throwing up just as fast.
Skating on thin ice, i couldn't bring myself to frolic at the Great
Corporate Hoedown Ball for long. i was born a lighted candle. My center
was the wick of that lighted candle. But the dead pliable wax and the
flame's silhouette was what Mr. Western Culture and his Ambassadors
wanted left standing. Not my flame and ancestral wick. Trembling, extinguished,
bare, wounded and vulnerable, i would splice together the remains, exhale
the interests He wasn't expecting in His face, like a sleeping elephant
waking up, like the mythical dragon breathing out. But in the process
of it. in the living of it. i didn't know i was waking. i thought i
Grann, se ou menm ki la? Is that you there? Mwen pa tande.
Sa w ap di?
When i had made this U turn. When it was over. To bring myself into
visibility and then to disappear into oneness. Grann sent me back out
here again. it was one motion to wholeness and a thousand ways to be
broken. i still vibrate with the pain and pathos of the last trip. Still
strain and stumble for stepping back to a place so full of misogynist
minds. That's why, if i could, i would fall on my knees in relief i
was not socialized there. But here in the U.S. where i could just be
a bourgie bunny obsessed with her nails and latest SUV... But, Grann
mwen, her DNA wouldn't let me wallow in suburban amnesia, licking
my wounds. She sent me back out here to face you again. She gave me
these Kreyòl words. She said, al boule, al boule, al boule
- go roll, go roll, go roll through the fire, chèri. The unborn
cannot get burned.
That's why you see me out this box.
Five years has gone by and i'm still chanting at these Jericho walls
with all my might. Paske Grann mwen, she held my soul safe in
her Kanari. Showed me how to take everything in and enfold
it in my belly, my heart, not my head.
(© Èzili Dantò, October 31, 2002)
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