(For Rendel – Haiti )
There is a carnival of crows in Haiti where death is the
honeymoon of the living. Nature
is a beast in this home of absences in dialogue
with silences where history is an
elegy studied in funerals. Sometimes, what you call humans
here are shrinking shadows searching for their
bodies in the cobwebs
of missing houses. See, Rendel reeks of Golgotha,
drowning in a river of dying songs. Every morning,
the sun becomes the husband of a widow.
Of what use is sun rising when hurricane
aborted the long dead from
the womb of the earth just to mock them that they can’t
help the living? Mother, Haitian ancestors are
no longer resting in peace.
And whatever that shines here in the night is
neither the moon nor stars but
the grinding teeth of gaunt children whose
dry tears are pushing out their
eyes — for their beloved lost to hurricane
without traces of their remains.
See, even before the seismic winds and rains tore
through the naked souls of cities,
towns and villages, robbed lands their endowments
and cut nearly everything
Standing into pieces, there was cholera here – the
bacteria that rushed down from
the hillsides eating through the hearts of inhabitants
who once occupied above the
river, reducing them into absences.
Now the signpost of living is a makeshift clinic – tiny
concrete building with ashen
appearance dangling to the hard claps
of the passing winds, where scents
of bile and faeces poison nostrils, where a few
nurses contend with hundreds of people
in throes of cholera, and
hundreds pouring in daily. Sometimes, a few beds
are for children – IV
drips are flooding fluids into their shrivelled arms,
while their yellowed mothers in
cholera’s seizures too watch with eyes cascading
rivulets of dirges. Night is a
plague here: the heroic nurses like wet rags would
spread on the cold floor or worn
stretchers where patients often vomit and defecate
their anuses out.
Sometimes the floods when they come would carry
fecal matter on the defiled mountains,
on the roadsides and
emptied into the rivers – which people bathe and
sometimes drink from, thereby
spreading the footprints of cholera faster and beyond.
Sadly, where hurricane potholed is cholera’s home.
Many faces with luminous dreams I know
in Haiti are no more. Some fled. Some dead without
I once asked a child why he’s not in school?
He said, “Schools have been reduced
into refugee camps. We are refugees in our land.”
Before hurricane and cholera came, you’ll remember
that there were serene times
here when children built sandcastles
with their legs, screamed in delight at the sight of canoes
by the banks of these rivers that
now infect them, that now kill them.
You’ll remember there were times this place
was swarming with virile people,
when the hillsides wore green faces with painted grins
and the trees
flanking their green limbs when
fingered by morning air in their wet crevices.
The tales of these halcyon days are heard in the
silences of funeral songs pounding on the lips
Let Haiti remember Haiti, let the world remember
Haiti now, let the world
grow a long hand to draw Haiti
out from the soul of a carcass, that the sun might
rise here again.
Madu Chisom Kingdavid is a Nigerian poet and writer born in Umunoha – a historical town in the heart of Igboland. He is also a graduate of History and International Studies.