The phantoms of Port-Louis (Mauritius 1)

In the shade of a bougainvillea, the ocean was crying hot tears
The night had fallen like a trapeze artist, violently, on the sands of the island
And the loins of the night, sore from the daybreak, were beginning to suffer under the heat
I placed brown sugar on my tongue. You kissed me.

Victoria pineapples piled up on the stalls like rain-soaked soldiers,
Street vendors and Port Louis vendors;
Their voices still echo in me. Until the evening I caressed your arm
At 100 m from the ground, I took a zip line between the Mourouk valley and Rodrigues.

The tamarind juice is not as refreshing as the fresh coconut water
Drank under the giant banyan trees at the Pointe des Régates in Mahébourg.
In this country too the mountains are proud, they rise from the fields of cane
And spit a dark smoke on a sparkling sky;

The ebony trees make the reputation of the forest, my love
I dived alone into the ocean and found myself face to face with the angels of the sea:
A leopard triggerfish and a standard fish swam among the corals.
The sun was burning my conscience, you were watching me from the shore

I passed out in the middle of the ocean and you dived in to retrieve me
But you couldn’t stand the current so I opened my eyes and kissed you without fear of danger
And I held on tight to one of the rocks at Esny Point, and snuggled up to your shoulder
We stayed for long minutes clinging to each other like rocks

The day was declining, it was getting dark, I shook my hair full of sand and salt
Your lips were chapping from the salt, I took your hand and we walked home exhausted
The sugar factory behind the hotel was belching out gusts of black smoke

We counted the sugars in the hotel, a dozen of them and made love after too much sugar,
The ghost of Queen Victoria entered our room and frowned.
But I wasn’t afraid, you were in my arms, but the light started to flicker
Then the ghost went back to haunt other lovers, and to hide in the government hotel nearby

Traveler, wake up, I’m taking you on a tour of the ghosts of Mauritius
In the Blue Penny Museum, there are more rare stamps than I would ever find for you
Will you allow me to steal them after dark?
I want to steal Queen Victoria’s Two Pence

I’ll introduce you to other ghosts that haunt Maurice, you probably know them,
Her name is Virginia. It is she who in the novel that bears her name drowned in the ocean
For fear of taking off her heavy dress in front of the man she loved who was waiting for her on land before the storm
She killed herself for chastity, so as not to reveal her body to Paul, who remained damned and alone for the rest of his life

Traveler, can we be happy and not be damned like the ghosts of this island?
I’m a simple person, I just want you, a little sand and poetry sometimes
And if the ghosts bother you, I’ll know how to make them run away by telling them the most horrible French news.
I’m sure they’ve never turned on Fox news or Cnews (French equivalent of Fox news).

The statue of another ghost, Mahé de Labourdonnais, spies passers-by from the entrance of the harbor, around the Place d’armes.
Duke of Edinburgh Avenue is lined with Creole houses, and disfigured by banks.
You know I like to rob millionaires in the evening in my poems my love;
So keep me close to you again tonight.

I would like to visit the museum of photography.
Let’s go and try to lose all those ghosts with the snapshots.
God that Maurice was beautiful on this sepia of the 19th and that I would like to go back in time to take you there and make you forget the wanderings of the present.

Traveler I love you, I wrote it to you elsewhere
« our relationship never ended by showing more and more ambiguous poses ».
Maybe that’s what love is, photographs that evolve until their ink ends up in a museum
Or maybe conversely, photographs are an act of loving an instant?

Mauritius was the first country in the southern hemisphere to have access to photography.
The last ghosts I take you to are two photography enthusiasts.
They are the ones who have built this museum from their but. See this daguerreotype?
It belonged to the founder of the museum, Tristan Bréville.
Today, its ghost and that of his wife are only seen by photography lovers.

Would you allow me to take a picture of you, even from a distance, under the mist, behind the filaos trees and their huge shadows?
A horse just passed by at full speed, you turned around, and I captured your smile.
The Port Louis theater has closed, but the street dancers continue to entertain the gallery.
The balconies are made of wrought iron, large women’s hands grip them to watch the parade

Let’s melt away in the smoke and crowds my love, and if there’s too much noise and smell,
Let’s breathe in the spices near the mosque in Chinatown where businessmen in suits and ties defy the ravaging sun.
Let’s make love on top of the citadel overlooking Port Louis.
No one will dare meet us at the top of the steps, most tourists stop well before. I promise you no one will…

But just as I was crying because you were making love to me on the rocks, a light cleared the night and a deep voice began to tell a story in Mauritian Creole.
I snuggled up to you, still ravaged by desire, and we listened to the storyteller’s tale, about a bird and a cage;
As he passed his flashlight across the sky like a madman clapping his hands

Far from the Château du Réduit where the President of the Republic of Mauritius sleeps, accompany me to the botanical garden, to admire the cassava from Brazil brought by the ships that called at Port Louis.
The 18th century brought pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon to the island but my favorite smell is your chest.

We had tea next to an ornamental flowering plant,
Behind the model of a boat and our eyes drowned in the August sun.
I took your hand, my fingers caressed yours between the avenues of palms, laurels and ferns.
The bougainvilleas seemed to laugh, or was it the sound of the wind?

In the castle of Mon Plaisir, the personalities were each invited to plant a tree:
Indira Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, François Mitterrand…
And you, my angel, which tree would you plant if you could find it years later?
In the black stone lotus that faces the castle, it is the ashes of former Prime Minister Ramgoolam.

You see my love, life is short, let’s not waste it away from each other,
Close your eyes I’ll take you to Port Louis, to meet some ghosts who lived too quickly
But who leave us the beauty of their island and poignant memories.
Let us be worthy and love each other madly, until the dead take us away from the bougainvillea.

I stared at an orchid all morning waiting for you to wake up, I didn’t dare wake you.
When I heard you quiver, I slipped into your arms and loved you for a long time
I think you could hear our sighs all the way to the bridge over the Lemon River in the Botanical Gardens.
A serin made its melodious song and the migrating swallows were starting to flock over our hotel.

We went out for one last walk, thanking nature for being what it is,
The lacquered trees sparkled and reflected a divine light in our pupils,
The ghost of Labourdonnais waved lightly at us from the water lily pond
I caressed a fig tree, a badamier (which gives almonds) and a Ceylon cinnamon tree.

These trees felt our love and moved aside as we passed.
We left the park for the village surrounded by the cane fields of the old farms.
The atmosphere had changed and reflected the slavery past of the place.
We lit candles in the church of St. Francis in memory of the ghosts of Port Louis,

Then I grabbed your arm, took you away from the Devil,
Away from the Gods of Port Louis, and threw myself into your arms.
The sun and salt, the morning swim made my hair ripple,
You tried to comb it with your fingers without hurting me,

But it was a complex mission and we ended up waiting for the evening
On the beach with Mauritian wine (which is not as good as French wine)
Behind a traveler’s tree (or ravenala) whose fan-shaped foliage is used to cover houses
(It is called the traveler’s tree because its stems are a water reserve).

Traveler, can we be happy and not be damned like the ghosts of this island?
I love you, I wrote it to you elsewhere, maybe in a lot of places,
« our relationship was showing more and more ambiguous poses ».
Let us be worthy and love each other madly, until the dead take us away from the bougainvillea.

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