Junkanoo Beach, Nassau

3 July 2000

The blue-green waters of this channel, where black bodies glisten in the wavelets

and schools of fish ripple the surface in a timeless dance,

Where pleasure boats come and go in the calm waters,

 or glisten in the sun, white in their moorings,

Where immense cruise ships spend the night at birth,

and commercial ships discharge their traded cargo,

The lighthouse on the left, white against the blue sky,

the sun rising at the right, the clouds, the waters full of light.

This is not Havana harbor, two hours west by plane,

 a sailboat cruises under power down the channel,  gracefully even without sails,

The air feels cooler here, fresher,  a weather pattern perhaps less thermal, more social,

This island of black people,  escaped slaves from Haiti,

is a place of freedom and prosperity,

Due, it’s true, to the wealthy North American tourists,  arriving daily on their planes and ships,

With their stupid, shallow thoughts,  and smug, self-satisfied causal clothing

and vacant smiles-  but nonetheless,

The waters here do not float with oily scum,  they float the image of that lighthouse

and home the crabs and lobsters, fish and shiny stones on the clear bottom.

The waters here float pleasure boats,  small boats for working people,

 large ones for the rich,

They are not empty, like Havana, except for children risking illness,

in the effluent of inefficient factories.

People do not risk their lives here to escape,  small boats on a vast expanse of sea.

Nassau is a stopping point for me this morning,

No place to live- a nightmare of capitalist smugness- 

a birth for the night on the journey home.

What we want and need is not Havana, and what we need is not this pristine

Junkanoo Beach,

The longing for freedom in our hearts, is for deep transformation,

the jailbreak out of history-  genuine newness!

This channel to the sea,  where morning breaks above the passionate

confusion of our lives,

Is not Havana harbor – a birth for the night, a turning point

for reflection and for hope.

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