a reply to Derek Walcott

1. For beginners

Yo spar!
Come sit down here and let us talk.
I too have had a sound colonial education,
but we’ve been colonised and colonisers so long now,
there is no memory left except in books.

Nothing I can say will wipe away the crimes.
Though always there were those who practised solidarity,
most of us turned out prisoners who’d tasted power,
becoming cruel gangsters in their turn.

Yet we’d been slaves and bonded servants too –
the anger and the hurt lasted many generations,
only to be eased by crumbs from off the masters tables,
that newer serfs like you supplied instead.

What can I say?
Stupidity must rule
when people are denied the right to make their own decisions
and grow then into weak and vicious frightened children
– all of us have been abused some way.

We, at least, know who are fathers were.
Or do we?
Sure, we know their names and their fathers too
and can trace them back to an earlier migration,
but that’s not all there is to know.

We should try again, while there is time,
to help each other finally begin to climb
out from the trenches and the plague pits of our history
and work towards our common destiny.

We have to look around at who is here,
to recognise we have to share this earth alive or dead
and that it would be best if all were allies in this matter,
who prefer the former to the latter.

It’s no “inferior love” we should give those
who we adopt or who adopted us, than what we owe
to any who are joined to us by family or race.
I’ve said enough. So what do you say, ace?