The Akaba u di Mundu / The end of the world (Saramaka / English translation)

Around the Maroni River
A teacher drinks a rum
And his lips tremble with rage
The wind swells his eyelids
The sky lights up the clouds
Look at these white flames
These mirrors that turn
Under the churning oceanic breath

I threw up gallons of ink
In this ocean of dust
Slavery returns to haunt our wet eyelashes
The felled trunks, the pink breeze, and akànde (perhaps)
The monoxylean pirogues
Graphic patterns on the facades
My ankles carry a line of blood
The dead return on a white boat
A fire covers the fog
With smoke blacker than the night

We who are bored
In the heavy grey cities
A rain of oil spilled from our mouths
Our hearts are clogged and oxidized
Let’s dive into the fresh water one last time
If I could see the agadawéde (white and blue swallow of the rivers) again
Close my jaw on the moonlight
To recite a last verse in Saramaka…

But death drums at the door of my condo
She waves her fear-stained sheet
Her silver-grey feathers
And laughs, in the darkness, and hides
Like the reflection of an ounce
She waits for the hours to fall
In the river of the presentiment
The akàba u di mundu (the end of the world)
And the water closes on me
As my boat splits the blue flames

On your face to see one last time
The white glow of happiness and this amindoli (dimple)
My hook hit an ice cube
And the boneless body of an adingo (shrimp)
The rum flows in the iron cracks
I see again in the shadow of the awara palm
A brother and sister sitting on a rock
We watched the dance of the birds
We brandished our slingshots
The sindeki snake waving leaves of green gold
On the landing strip,
We burn an anglicized Creole
A language yet a-suti (it’s pretty)
Already the bananas bloom,

In the region of Paramaribo
Around the Maroni river
A teacher drinks a rum
And his lips tremble with rage
The wind swells his eyelids
The sky lights up the clouds
Look at these white flames
These mirrors that turn
Under the churning of the oceanic breath

Note: Saramaka is a Creole with an Anglo-Portuguese lexical base, spoken around the Maroni River in French Guiana and Suriname. The language has about 50,000 speakers.

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