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the 21 days

on the first day

of yr death it is quiet it is dormant like a doormat

no one-foot touch its welcome. its dust on the floor

is not disturb nor are the sleeping spirits of this house

i sit here in this chair trying to unravel Time so that it wouldn't happen twine

on the second day

of yr death.  i break a small


i can still smell the sweet flour of yr firstborn flesh

on the third day

of yr death.  the water in my urine turn to blood

i cover the waterfront of the mirror w/a blue cloth where yr face stood

on the fourth day

yu shd be rising.  knocking at the door of

darkness. coming back to me

i do not hear yr call

on the fifth day

after yr death. a young white rooster.  white white white feathery & shining tail & tall

neigbour of sound from miles away in the next village

stands in the yard & from his red crown crows & crows & will not go away

he struts round to the back-a-wall

his one eye clicking as he crows

comes to the glissen of my window & he crows

loud like the overflowing voice of my Trelawny waterfall

on the sixth day

after yr death.   there is this silence of flowers

their petals say  their shining needs

soft water needs

sweet showers needs

sweet rain from heaven

i see them once again inside the chapel of my funeral

on the seventh day

after yr death.  the yellow flour

in the cup-cakes in the kitchen have gone sour

there is an eye of rancid in the middle of their meal

i am unhappy like the wind & tides are restless rivers

i can't find you. i can't find you. i cannot cannot cannot be console to dreams

the mad dogs of the pasture kill the cock & pillage

it. madwoman wind is scattering white screaming feathers' petals' pedals over all

the brunt and burnin ochre-colour land

on the eiate day

after yr death

me do nothin. nothin. nothin  .  i cdn't even get yr inglish 'eighth' spelt streight

on the nine / ff night

yu rise again from off the dead

i see you now & at the hour of yr o not soff not soffly dead

it is my pain it is my privilege  .  it is my own torn flesh torn fresh

o let me comfort us my chile  .  is not yr heart is broken

on this tenth day

i haffe go down to the Station today to find out

what they doin about yr det.  about the 'accident'

dem call it.  bout the black-hearted man who a-kill

yu. an whe dem hide yu body

and po.  lice who dealin w/ this case  they cannot look me in the lips

and No One kno

whe the boy is or gone or when he will come-back

ten time dis ten dem mek me up & down & book & fourt

to fine my sun.   an ten ten time dem ave no ansa for me for me for me

in dis dry-weatha tunda

dem seh because i poor & have no book to haul-out

inside dis station. an i inn got no song

to sing becau i colour in dis Marcus Garvey country proud an strong

an wrong - yu sun gone out & still you colour wrong.

inn got no i say song

i wonda whe Port Royal is.  when de eart goin again goin crack

my daughta Ingriid walk beside me hurt

an strong an dress in black

her face inside she face int mekkin sport

on the tenth night after a long long distance silence

i born into this world w/ nothing but my breath & my bare back an hornets

in my chess

now i will haffe doubt if god is good & black & honesty

wha good good do fe me?

whe god dat cricket midnight criminal when Mark of god get call like dat & kill

Mark cyaan dead so if good. if god

my breath give birt to good like god

my sun dis gold is all my riches that cannot be replace

an suddenly me cannot fine him in dis place before dis good god face to face

wha good fe god. no god. what good. wha god. no god

if good Mark have no face to face dis god inside dis good god place

on the eleventh day after he dead


on the twelfth day

after yr debt - o pickney - it is as if me cyaaan wake up

Time has been drain from all my clocks. the sky is overcyas & lock

altho it isn't rainin yet


this night we hold our wake. watch w/ the spirit of my sum before his daily funeral

. people cook food bring bread & drink & there's some singing

of the old traditions by the older folks & country citizens

but they soon fall to arguing and they soon fall down to quarrellin

about the words the phrases time & tempo of these sookey tunes

it seem they isolated in the old traditions in these coffee hills

[poem continues in Born to Slow Horses]

Please note: This poem appears with different fonts in the original collection.

From "Kumina"

Kamau Brathwaite

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