Place Name: Oracabessa by Kei Miller

Oracabessa – origins disputed but most likely leave over
from the Spanish. Oracabeza, Golden Head, though
what gold was here other than light shining off the bay,
other than bananas bursting out from red flowers? But
this too is disputed – not the flowers – rather, the origin
of bananas; they may have come here with Columbus on
a ship that in 1502 slipped into Orcabessa the way grief
sometimes slips into a room. In those days the sailor
tried to name the island Santa Maria, as if not knowing
we already had a name, in another language, a language
whose speakers would soon die – though this too is
disputed – not the deaths, but the completeness of
genocide. Consider, if you will, such leave-over words as
barbecue; consider hurricane; consider the word Jamaica,
land of wood and water – but not of gold. Could someone
please go back in time and tell Columbus, in Taino there
is no word for gold. Christopher Columbus, in Italiano
Cristoforo Colombo, en español Cristóbal Colón. A teacher
once told me ‘Colón’ is root word for colonist, and though
I know that was false etymology, there is some truth to it.
Oracabessa – place where you might find such tranquil
villas as Golden Cove, Golden Clouds or Goldeneye –
longtime home of Ian Fleming who sat there on cliff’s
edge, the morning’s breakfast brought to him by a woman
named Doris, the scent of ackee and crisp-fried
breadfruit wafting up to his nostrils while between his
teeth he bit a number 2 pencil, all the time looking out to
sea as if fishing for a story – maybe a man – an incredible
man – let’s call him Bond. James Bond. Who knew 007
wasn’t Scottish, but a barefoot bwoy from St Mary, Jamaica.
Like so many others, he too would migrate – the brutish
winter cooling his complexion down to white. Such stories!
Goldfinger, GoldenEye, The Man with the Golden Gun.
Did you never stop to wonder where all this gold came
from? Did you never stop to ask, what was found in El
Dorado? Well, let me tell you: not a nugget, not an ounce
of ore – but light gilding the bay, and perhaps bananas, and
perhaps ackee, and such language as could summon
wind to capsize Columbus’s ships – and if that’s not gold,
then what is?


About arnulfo

veterano del ciberespacio
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