Songs of a Broken Home-Madu Chisom Kingdavid

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Illustration by Malaika Sujeet

(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

graves.

 

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

of hurricane.

 

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.