The first introduction to the poetry of René Depestre and translation of his major work: Un arc-en-ceil pour l’occident chrétien (A Rainbow for the Christian West). This vodou mystery poem recounts the epic journey of the lwa or gods of vodou to a judge’s house in Alabama—and beyond.
Here I am Damballah-Wedo
Water Black Stream Black
I am the beating heart of the water
I am the taut sex of the water
A thunder rock in hand
I drench a small branch of basil
In a glass of white wine
And I spray your sallow faces
I spray your pale hysterias
I water the cardinal points of your vices
I crawl on my back I spin out my rada
I glide I dance my Yanvalou at your house
If you see a green snake
Dance with the eldest of your daughters, it is me!
If you see a rainbow passionately embracing her groin,
it’s me once again!
I change the eldest of your daughters into a rainbow!
Now she slithers with my seven snakes
Now she undulates in the sun of my vigor
Now she makes the rounds of my sweet waters
Now she kisses three times my Damballah
And my We do my Wilibo my Wilimin
I am Voodoo’s rainbow: I am vaudou-l’arc-en-ciel
And the eldest daughter of an Alabama Judge
Is going to lose her white bonnet on my shores!