What Do I Know

Mr Elias John-Baptiste says they sent a biblical  

hurricane so he could know God. Says God’s eye  

stayed above his house. Stared him out for 8 hours  

just to make sure he was the right one. And he was.  

Says God up lifted him high, boomed in air and brain,  


look me, look me in this here whirlwind. I Mosiah  

come with countless dead millions to help you out.  

They do not know what you are capable of; they do  

not know what you are thinking. I know you have  

wrought well, wrought well; you are well-wrought and  


ready to redeem. Mr John-Baptiste tells me all of this.  

His family tells me that since the hurricane, he’s lost  

connection to what is real. His head is gone they say.  

Elias lives only on Nood sea salt popcorn and spring  

water. He smiles—smiles all the time; leaves hair dread-  


ful long. There’s nothing we can do for him but pray,  

and give pills if he ever disturbs people too too much.  

Mr Elias John-Baptiste tells me his mother lives in the  

flooded wine cellar of his ruined house. She’s a bright  

black octopus. She feeds him a tentacle each day that  


grows right back. He tells me our tallest mountain has  

a flip-top lid and Cristóbal Colón lives deep deep inside.  

Says Colón thinks our Zion is the New Jerusalem they need  

and sees the twelve tribes of Israel all here in green Eden.  

Mr Elias John-Baptiste asks me if I believe in anything  


he says. I shrug. I say Mr John-Baptiste maybe you’re  

just not crazy about this world anymore; maybe you’re  

mad mad mad about something. But what do I know?  

He tells me he’s the one God chose to heal the world.  

I say—Aren’t we all Mr John-Baptiste, aren’t we all?  


Mr Elias John-Baptiste says he does not know where  

on good earth to start; has energetic answers now to  

every single question; exactly how to save the whole  

damn thing. Just not where to begin. I can only shrug  

again. All I know is God did not start from anywhere. 

from Guabancex (Papillote Press, 2020) and collected in Radical Normalisation (forthcoming Carcanet, 2022), © Celia Sorhaindo 2020, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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Celia A Sorhaindo is a poet from the Caribbean island of Dominica, where she now resides after living many years in the UK. Her poetry ...