Friday, September 22, 2006


Things I think I saw. # 1

Day 1. On the plane. Small girl, braids, glasses, dipping her tongue like a small black bird in a container of processed cheese.

Port-au-Prince a desiccated silvering city of low-flung, hill-clinging houses the color of dust.

Small boys and small men twisting under rivulets made by the sound of water on tin. They dance the rain dance, the dance of I’m free to have a shower and not have an umbrella. He is free to enjoy what is given.

Small boy, red shirt, leopard print purse draped squarely around his neck, stares blankly.

Hills the texture of New Zealand rise above the shimmering water. Pale green hills, a dusty path zigzagging up one’s side. Tired barren hills, they exist prior to us – since the beginning of matter, before the invention of slaves. Before we cared.

Day 2. Today I woke up with the third rooster – like Peter.

A man in a fisherman’s hat, machete in hand, barefoot, walks up a convoluted hard-packed stream of mud. His face laconic, impassive. His lack of expression speaks the sort of prose only someone like Borges could write.

We caused quite a stir by standing in the Haitian-only line, “Look the whites are standing in our line.”

We stop at the Haitian McDonalds for mashed plantains and spicy coleslaw. Local beauty saunters up holding the hand of a man.

Small fishing villages, fish traps woven by hand, boats line the shore, women and children run with arms outstretched – they want more than fish and salt.

I watch uneasily as our travel companion a Haitian saleswoman buys cement in Gonaïves. I am the only white man on the street. I feel overfed and conspicuous, overall, uncomfortable. I don’t know if I should help hoist the 85 lb. bags that the man balances effortlessly on his head. I feel like I will do the wrong thing no matter what. I stand unsure, uncertain, embarrassed. Bonswa. I say. Bonswa.


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