by Keith Ellis
I’m Sandy, too morally blank to be ashamed
Born in Central American jungle heat,
sucking moisture from trees long nurtured
by the bloodied victims of protected tyrants.
Friendly pressures strengthened my monstrous growth,
leading me straight to candid Jamaica
to make boulders fly and smash the fragile
dwelling of the elderly owner and the owner.
In bare and slippery Haiti my wide wet wings
hastened the muddy burial of Jacqueline Tatille;
and her four, aged five to seventeen,
she had tried to save became her smothered company.
A category two they had upgraded me
on my way to defiant Cuba.
The most discerning could perceive
that my gusts and surges I had maximized
to equal the top category five.
Perfected thus my armoury
I pounced on Santiago:
the steed of the great Maceo whinnied and shook;
four-month-old Roldán found his house’s walls
pinning his cradled infancy to the unyielding floor.
I tumbled trees as old as Hatuey,
wounded all that sustains life,
speeding in blind fury
through sleepy Oriente.
And everywhere the erstwhile livestock
lying stiffly swollen on the flattened fields.
In dispersed Bahamas
I swept away a banker and a pauper
and disguised my prideful surge
to give deceptive force
to my downgraded self.
Superstorm they would come to say.
I hurled granular sea waves
into Wall Street’s secret depths.
With whetted appetite I drowned houses and people,
tore forever from their mother’s arms
Connor aged five and Brandon, two;
while her Staten Island neighbours
impassive, mimicking me, gave no help.
Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, U.S.A:
the same winds and waters
caused moans and tears
desolation and death
in a few short days.
I imposed a suffering shared
reminding them of common humanity.
I’m now a memory spent in Canada’s vastness,
too morally blank to be ashamed.
But what of the suffering
enforced by one on the other:
the embargo inhumanly designed
for inhuman suffering,
suffering for half a century now,
from Flora ‘til me;
and for how much longer
will it, like me, be too morally blank
to be ashamed?
Poem written by Jamaican academician, Keith Ellis, Professor Emeritus, at the University of Toronto, author or editor of eighteen books and some one hundred articles published in all the top journals in his field of Spanish-American literature and culture. Professor Ellis is a long-standing, active defender of the Cuban revolution and Coordinator, Canadian Network on Cuba, CNC, Sandy Relief Fund.