Many thanks to Richard Price for sending us this poem by Nancy Morejón, “Príncipe negro para George Floyd” [Black Prince for George Floyd]. Nancy Morejón, Cuba’s award-winning poet laureate (2001), essayist, critic, and former director of Caribbean Studies Center at Casa de las Américas, in Havana, has allowed us to post her new poem “Black Prince for George Floyd.” We are honored to share it with you today (9 June 2020) as George Floyd’s funeral is taking place in Houston. (Translated by Ivette Romero; see the original poem below.)
Nancy Morejón / “Black Prince for George Floyd” *
Although his dream was to throw you into the Mississippi,
that cannibal in opaque uniform
has silently burned his knee
into your inert neck.
The smoke from your flesh rises to the wet sky.
Skipping among the flowers, the air from your bronchi
chases after its ghost until you bite
the cannibal’s bloody fang.
And you breathe energy, untamed, onto the wet asphalt,
under the still shadow of an apple tree
where we will place, for you,
this brilliant, this
immaculate black prince of ours,
in your memory.
Cerro, Cuba. June 4, 2020.
[Translated by Ivette Romero. *Príncipe negro/Black Prince is the name of a dark red rose.]
Nancy Morejón, PRÍNCIPE NEGRO PARA GEORGE FLOYD
Aunque su sueño era lanzarte al Mississippi,
aquel caníbal de uniforme opaco
ha quemado en silencio su rodilla
sobre tu cuello inerte.
El humo de tu carne va subiendo hasta el cielo mojado.
Saltando entre las flores, el aire de tus bronquios
persigue su fantasma hasta morder
el colmillo sangriento del caníbal.
Y tú alientas, indómito, sobre el asfalto húmedo,
bajo la sombra quieta de un manzano
donde colocaremos, para ti,
este brillante, este limpio
príncipe negro nuestro,
a tu memoria.
Cerro, 4 de junio, 2020
Photo above by Omer Messinger / Sipa / AP, from https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/after-the-killing-of-george-floyd-fury-at-america-and-its-values-spreads-globally. For more information on Nancy Morejón, see https://www.smith.edu/academics/poetry-center/nancy-morej%C3%B3n