Wednesday, January 13, 2010

As Night Fell in Port-au-Prince

I came home on a Tuesday
and found out that the earth had moved
and Haiti, already cracked and tattered,
had split apart.

I sat and stared at the computer screen,
mouth dry, clicking through images of broken buildings
and people crushed in body and spirit;
accounts of an un-creation or apocalypse:

—As night fell in Port-au-Prince, fires burned near the shoreline downtown, but otherwise the city fell into darkness—There is a blanket of dust rising from the valley south of the Capital—We can hear people calling for help from every corner—

I went through the motions,
made donations to aid organizations,
but this doesn’t bring back the dead
or make any of this make any sense.

Again, I scanned the day’s stories;
a final paragraph caught my eye:

Then the singing began. Those gathered outside tents, on lawn chairs, sitting in the middle of empty streets, sang their hymns. One phrase in Creole could be heard repeatedly both inside and outside the hospital walls, as if those voicing the words were trying to make sense of the madness around them.

“Beni Swa Leternel,” they sang. “Blessed be the Lord.”


  1. We don't watch the news. So we only learn about these things from others. I don't need to see it. I can feel it in your words. They are beautiful but bring me to tears.

  2. Thank you for this. I just read your article at Sojourner today, and found your blog. I was interested to see your poetry project, and searched to see what you wrote just after our earthquake. What you wrote is exactly how it was. I'll be poking around here more to see what else you've written. Thank you for sharing your work!