— A Le Morne Brabant Mountain legend
As the rustling of British officers
is heard anew, the maroons gasp among
tied boulders on the windy cliff. Their dreams
freeze; Death beckons at The Valley of Bones*.
Five of them, like golden raindrops, shower
to clinch it. Death shines brighter. The other
maroons, shocked, take a step back. The leader
whispers assurance—but the British are
heard louder. The bondage swells in their raw
bosom. The cold sunset drenches the spot
with solid, red rays. These scarred maroons are
unaware that the officers bear the
news of their freedom. Hearts pulverised, they
all join hands to shower too. Their shouts soon
rend the air, seeming bold and free, blissful
and final—only for their freed souls to
learn later that they have left free bodies.
What is more tragic than runaway slaves
in rugged rags jumping off the shiny
threshold of freedom without leaving one
alphabet of their names along the wind?
What is more tragic than slaves with babies
in their bellies hitting the basalt hard,
with the echoes heard over the pink sea?
*] legendary name of the spot into which the maroons leapt
( Amit Parmessur is a poet and teacher. His writing has appeared in several magazines, namely WINK, The Rye Whiskey Review, Night Garden Journal, Ann Arbor Review and Ethos Literary Journal. He loves to pick off past experiences and turn them over in the light. Nowadays, he edits The Pangolin Review.)
The Beautiful Space-