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Callaloo 24.4 (2001) 960-967

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fromThe Biblical Register Of Final Deeds

Patrick Chamoiseau

Deborah had inscribed some utterances that were a bit curious, as if they had been written under hypnosis. Verbs were scarce, prepositions, conjunctions, and punctuation were non-existent. As for their very meaning, they seemed to belong to delirium rather than to description. I had to redo all of it myself, as a sort of translation that flattened everything, but which allowed me to imagine better that sort of mental fever, that state by which the young rascal and the ardent Deborah were possessed.

Record of the Sites in the Second World

Principle: There is a second world. The bestiality of human nature hides it from us. It is not a continent. And it is not an island. It is not one of those places that men have circumscribed with borders and the shadows of flags. These are Sites. And these Sites are composed of sides.

       Corollary: A side is always interfaced between the first world and the second world. This interface is indefinite.

One--There is the Site of silent cliffs, excavated by the nests of birds that live on the ground and take flight in order to sleep. It stretches to the edge of a lagoon of green sea where walking in the water becomes the offering made for their dreams.
Those who live there eat the eggs fish lay for them in the foam of the tides. They make of them souskays and soup from a seaweed base that impregnates some of their virgins during the full moon.
They have no language to defend and they erect, in the center of each hut, an altar where a god, adored by nobody and about whom nothing is known, is forever absent.
The Site of silent cliffs is perhaps at the level of the warm seas; or at the very nourishing outlet of the Gulf Stream currents. Great fishermen must know it. [End Page 960]

      Sarah was reading the Bible
         without looking for a God.

Side: They have set up a gate, wide open to the winds, right on a savannah of rock. And they gather there to smoke shark bladders that have been dried in the sun.

      Sarah is speaking to the winds.

Side: The women, on certain evenings, begin to murmur, just to underscore the vast silence of the men. They possess the mystery of murmuring.

      Sarah is speaking to the winds.

Side: The altar remains empty. Not a single person looks at it. Except when one of the birds they refuse to name comes for protection from a gust of wind or from a phosphorescent rain tumbling out of the North.

      Sarah looks at everything
         with exaltation.

Side: They are teaching children the meaning of walking. One walks only to move, to go, to explore, to conquer: one walks in order to settle within oneself and to delve more deeply.

      Sarah was constantly going and going further
        into liberated stasis.

Two--There is the Site of great trees. People live in them. They have hollowed their trunks and arranged their branches. They get nourishment from their sap and they eat their leaves, flowers, and the spongy part of their bark in every kind of sauce prepared in any manner.

In their writing, the spelling changes according to their dreams. And that writing says: We, the guardians of the earth and the watchmen of the sky, and the direct descendents of the saps with crossed-heart leaves.

Their unconscious is an umber flower known by the great sun. No night unfolds within them.

Nothing surprises them and nothing frightens them, for each one of their dreams is chiseled with eyes wide open so that it will remain primary matter of everything possible. [End Page 961]

This Site is located in desert sand where the springs of fresh water have been extracted from roots. They call these roots: The running fix.

      Sarah was living in a dream.

Side: They venerated the bamboos, laughing out loud and giving them little kicks. That makes them...


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