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Our Heritage - Nancy Morejon
One of the most preeminent and internationally succesful Cuban poets today. Growing up within Cuba's revolutionary process, she became the irst widely published black woman poet in Cuba, winning prizes in Cuba and internationally for her work. As a Cuban evolutionary and poet, she is known for celebrating women and blackness in her poems.”
I still smell the foam of the sea they made me cross.
The night, I can not remember it.
The ocean itself could not remember that.
But I can’t forget the first gull I made out in the distance.
High, the clouds, like innocent eyewitnesses.
Perhaps I haven’t forgotten my lost coast,
nor my ancestral language.
They left me here and here I’ve lived.
And, because I worked like an animal,
here I came to be born.
How many Mandinga epics did I look to for strength.
His Worship bought me in a public square.
I embroidered His Worship’s coat and bore him a male child.
My son had no name.
And His Worship died at the hands of an impeccable English lord.
This is the land where I suffered
mouth-in-the-dust and the lash.
I rode the length of all its rivers.
Under its sun I planted seeds, brought in the crops,
but never ate those harvests.
A slave barracks was my house,
built with stones that I hauled myself.
While I sang to the pure beat of native birds.
I rose up.
In this same land I touched the fresh blood
and decayed bones of many others,
brought to this land or not, the same as I.
I no longer dreamt of the road to Guinea.
Was it to Guinea? Benin?
To Madagascar? Or Cape Verde?
I worked on and on.
I strengthened the foundations of my millenary song and of my hope.
I left for the hills.
My real independence was the free slave fort
and I rode with the troops of Maceo.
Only a century later,
together with my descendants,
from a blue mountain
I came down from the Sierra
to put an end to capital and usurer,
to generals and to bourgeois.
Now I exist: only today do we own, do we create.
Nothing is foreign to us.
The land is ours.
Ours the sea and sky,
the magic and vision.
Compañeros, here I see you dance
around the tree we are planting for communism.
Its prodigal wood resounds.
This poem was translated by Kathleen Weaver
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