our fragmented history
written with a large axe
told by the bordertracers
slaves of their prejudice
 
our marooned history
chained by hatred
whitewashed memory, creole coolie
color anger pain dockers
 
our disinvented history
open book on nothingness
pages thrown into oblivion
rewritten by the portolan of night
 
our dismembered history
archipelago of sorrow
Chagos of our lost islands
 
our incomplete history
treated with complacency . . .
 
from what oceanic anger
in what starry night
by what abolished time
on what raft deported?
 
violent wind
disemboweled galley
oars, tears, and cries
on a savage sea
 
from what oceanic anger
by what wilted time
in what abolished night?
 
disabolished speech
words of urgent pain
whipped in the face of the world
 
to tell the four cardinal points
the solitude of restraints
in the entrails of departure
 
to hurl disenchanted memory
songs of doleful repentance
uncaged segas in the depths of the hold
 
not afraid of shame
tell the story
tell it again
until the sea reveals its secrets
 
always the sea always
indian the indian ocean
blood and port, blood import
ballet of allotted lives
 
always the sea always
the same silenced cries of rebellion
orations without horizons
lives at a bartered price
 
always the sea always
shameful the shameful ocean
bodies battered before touching the shore
lives exchanged on the cheap
 
always the sea always . . .
 
© Michel Ducasse. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2012 by Antoine Bargel and Alexis Pernsteiner. All rights reserved.

notre histoire fragmentée
 écrite avec une grande hache
 contée par les compartimenteurs
 esclaves de leurs préjugés

   notre histoire marronne
      de haine enchaînée
      mémoire blanchie,  créole coolie
 koulèr colère doulèr dockers

   notre histoire  désinventée
 livre ouvert sur le  néant
 pages jetées aux  oubliettes
 récrites au portulan de  la nuit

notre histoire  démembrée
 archipel du chagrin
 Chagos de nos îles  perdues

notre histoire  incomplète
 dans laquelle on se  complaît…

 

de quelle colère océane
 dans quelle nuit étoilée
 par quel temps aboli
 sur quel rafiot  déporté ?

vent de galerne
 galère éventrée
 rames, larmes et drames
 sur une mer démontée

de quelle colère océane
 par quel temps étiolé
 dans quelle nuit  abolie ?

      

parole désabolie
 des mots de douleur urgente
 fouettés à la face du  monde

dire aux quatre points  cardinaux
 la solitude des  entraves
 dans les entrailles du  partir

hurler mémoire  désenchantée
 chants de morne  repentance
 séga désencagé à fond  de cale

pa pèr pou honté
rakonté
ré-rakonté
ziska la mèr dékouyoné…

      

toujours la mer  toujours  
 indien l’océan indien
 sans escale sang et  cale
 ballet de vies  ballottées

toujours la mer  toujours
 les mêmes cris de  révolte tus
 oraisons sans horizon
 vies au prix marchandé

toujours la mer  toujours
 indigne l’océan indigne
 corps meurtris avant de  toucher terre
 vies échangées à vil  prix

toujours la mer  toujours…




Michel DucasseMichel Ducasse

Michel Ducasse was born in 1962 in Mauritius. He spent his childhood in the village of Goodlands, northeast of the island. His collections of poetry include Alphabet (2001), Mélangés (2002), Soirs d’enfance, and Calindromes (2008). He writes in Kreol Morisien (Mauritian Creole) and French.

Translated from FrenchFrench by Alexis PernsteinerAlexis Pernsteiner and by Antoine BargelAntoine Bargel

Alexis Pernsteiner is a literary and academic translator. Recent publications include Hotelles by Emma Mars (an erotic novel set in Paris, the City of Love) and The Invention of Race: Popular and Scientific Representations (edited by Nicolas Bancel, Thomas David, and Dominic Thomas).

Antoine Bargel believes poetry is best translated as a duo, one poet/translator from each of the two languages involved. He has published two books of poetry (Silences and Le sexe peint), written a dissertation on bilingual (Spanish/French) author Jorge Semprun, and currently works as a translator and editor for the French press Aux Forges de Vulcain.