Editor's Choice Archive 1

Heartbroken Haiti

By Patricia Keegan

Sudden, uncontrollable, unforeseeable --
From the whimsical shift of the indifferent earth
A mighty force of destruction bursts forth
Unleashing hell -- chewing, churning and splitting
The delicate fabric of Haiti.


An ominous silence descends, calm as a concussion.
Images cascade from the TV screen,
Like a ghost, I stand transfixed, inadequate
Against this tidal wave of loss.
Everywhere, loss, loss, loss, loss.
Among the rubble: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters,
Babies, children, the old, the young,
Homes, dreams, aspirations, security,
Gone forever, decreed dead, diminished to mere glimpses
Sown randomly within the threads of time.


Impotent, solitary we stand, no blame, no anger,
No method of retaliation against
The insane eruptions of the oblivious, detached earth,
Blythly continuing its path around the sun.


And now from somewhere deep within the shifted land
The muffled cries begin:
A symphony of pathos emanating from the rubble,
Urgency clutches at time,
Each precious second, each ebbing moment a life can be saved.


Rescuers: Faces of kindness lean close to the ground
Digging dirt with their hands as they kneel,
Shouting words of resistance against time slipping by:
'Don’t give up, We’ll find you, We’re here.'
Their hands are all bloody, their shouts filled with hope,
But the sun cannot hold back the night.


Etched against the chaos, tall, straight and noble,
Wearing a red-ribboned straw hat and long cotton skirt,
A mother stands in the half-dusk,
Watching men with swollen hands begin to leave the rescue site.
'Come tomorrow,' she pleads.
'My child, my daughter, lying beneath the rubble, is alive!'


Dust fills the days, dead bodies line the roads
Cries of anguish pierce the nights.
I am transported to Port au Prince,
Fixated on this agony of agonies;
Hunger, thirst, excruciating pain,
Field hospitals devoid of surgical tools,
Limbs amputated crudely with saws,
Vodka spilled onto wounds for sterilization.
Left to their own devices
What will the Haitians do?


Out of the darkness comes a voice, a single note,
Like a sigh, soaring and soaring as though reaching for restoration from the heavens.
Higher and higher, joined by another and another.
A crowd gathers, holding hands, faces turned upwards,
As though searching for solace among the stars.
They lay their burden down, rest for awhile,
Standing together as Haitians
Finding strength in their faith and each other
They will overcome.


The returning sun reveals again the deadly chaos,
Jagged scars everywhere,
But amid this devastation
Miracles and beauty rise to the surface:
We see hope in the clear eyes and dust-caked face
Of four year–old Monley.
After five days in darkness, he blinks against the sudden light,
Yet upon his face, no fear reflected,
Only memories of love and trust
And the echo of his father’s last words --
'Don’t move, just be patient and someone will come!'
The sun still rises in a dazzling light over Haiti,
Leaving behind a sky filled with billions of stars,
Beneath this sky, the pain goes on and on and on.