Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Little Prince and the Fox

“What does tamed mean?”

“It’s something that’s been too often neglected. It means ‘to create ties’…”

“To create ties?”

“That’s right,” the fox said. “For me you’re only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me either. For you I’m only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we’ll need each other. You’ll be the only boy in the world for me. I’ll be the only fox in the world for you…”

“…if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I’ll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don’t eat bread. For me wheat is of no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you’ve tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I’ll love the sound of the wind in the wheat…”

That was how the little prince tamed the fox. And when the time to leave was near:

“Ah!” the fox said. “I shall weep.”

“Then you get nothing out of it?”

“I get something,” the fox said, “because of the color of the wheat.”

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed…”

-an excerpt from Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince

“You do things so that we’ll miss you,” Fabio repeats as the time gets closer.

I leave in a week.

The ties created leave me enriched, leaving me even more in love with all that surrounds me. And now my time to leave is near, Ah! I shall weep.

Now the sound of a gust of wind through the banana tree leaves, the smell of charcoal with the wet Earth, the tune of Little Richie’s “I feel good…”, and a certain rhythm of the drums send my heart soaring back to those it is tied to.

And I mustn’t forget that I have become responsible forever for what I’ve tamed…

With you,


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holy Ground

I took off my shoes and let the mud squish through my toes from Kay Pov home.

“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

Papi and Marcos came for six days. Each day they were in Kay Pov building a shower, walkway and stairs to the shower. Papi left his shoes behind.

Marcos took a ball and played in front of the house with a group of boys of all ages, all barefoot, sliding in the mud and rocks.

One of Lisanne’s sons picked her body up from the morgue and took his dad, Daniel, with him. He left his mismatched, oversized flip-flops in the empty room.

Now Tiffany sleeps in their room with her brother for protection. Three weeks ago she slept without him; someone entered, abused her, leaving her forehead with a welt covering half of it and a broken lip. She takes off her flip-flops before entering the room.

The committee in Kay Pov is working! Yvka has been officially hired. The Fonkoze account is open both for Haitian deposits and US deposits. Letters have been written to local organizations to ensure a monthly influx of food in Kay Pov. The lady who washes the clothes and sheets of those in Kay Pov will now have ensured pay. She walks with her bare feet on the ground.

Take off your sandals for you are on Holy ground. Exodus 3:5

With you,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God gives, God takes

At 5 in the morning Yvka opened the broken door to Lisanne’s room with a warm bowl of buyon (a soup with plantains, dumplings, and yucca).

As the sun rose from the mountains from afar Yvka sat next to her trying to spoon feed Lisanne, monitoring her breathing. Throughout the morning she bathed her in bed changing her clothes since she could no longer contain her bowel movements.

I arrived at 9am, after theater of the oppressed. The flies swarmed around her as she struggled for air. It was as if they knew.

We sat with the others as we planned for the morgue. Madame Lakwa tried to fill Lisanne’s empty stomach at noon while Yvka went off to hide her tears from the rest. They knew, we all knew.

I went to eat and bring back food for Yvka, who hadn’t eaten. Yvka and I stayed accompanying and sharing stories of the time spent with Lisanne as I braided her hair.

The wind blew, the children laughed, Alex complained, Tyler slept, and Lisanne ceased.

I went to her, calmly searched for her pulse, placed my hand on her chest, my finger under her nose, I kissed her still warm cheekbones that I had kissed so many times before and rubbed my warm nose against her cold one.

I walked across the room to Daniel to rub his head. Daniel spoke to me without lifting his head, “M pa kapab fe anyen, m pa kapab fe anyen. I can’t do anything, I can’t do anything.” He struggled up and limped over to his partner whom he had had ten children with. He uncovered her head, leaned over close to her face, straightened up, and limped back to his cot where he sat with his head low. “She’s dead. M pa kapab fe anyen.” I stood up, went outside, found the buyon and offered it to Daniel. He looked at Yvka and nourished himself with his companion’s last meal. He knew.

The wind blew, the children left, Alex complained, Tyler awoke, and Daniel ate.

As M. Lakwa and M. Lissette went searching for assistance at the morgue I continued to braid Yvka’s hair with Lisanne to my right and Daniel to my left.

When M. Lakwa and M. Lissette arrived with the stretcher the sun snuggled into the far off mountains. I thirsted.

They found no one to help carry the body to the morgue. We laid the stretcher by the cot on the floor. I lifted Lisanne’s head and upperbody while Yvka took her legs. Down the steep doorway, through the narrow corner, passed the gate, we carried. The weight of her body perplexed me; Lisanne was pure bones, and her body a cross. As soon as we passed the brick red gate two young men began bantering, laughing. The mockery continued all the way down the hill through the town to the main street.

People began to follow us out of curiosity.

“Who is it?” the voices cried out from porches and kiosks.

“An old one from Kay Pov,” a young woman responded through her smile.

“One less!” they cackled.

“Who is it?” they yelled, “Alex?”

“No, another from Kay Pov,” one of the followers replied.

“Aw, what a shame, I was hoping it was Alex.”

“Who is it?” they asked.

“A moun from Kay Pov.”

Laughter followed.

Motorcycles zoomed by honking and the mockery continued.

It wasn’t until we arrived to the main street that two women offered to help, M. Lissette on one corner of the stretcher and someone unknown to us on another corner. The four of us continued down the street towards the morgue as the crowds continued.

Abba, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

The man at the morgue wanted to discuss business before opening the door for us. Sweat streamed down our faces, the unknown lady went to place her corner on the floor while M. Lissette refuted, “No, we will carry her until she enters.” We did not budge. The man looked at our faces and unlocked the heavy doors to the small room that contained another body. We followed directions placing her body on the floor. We left.

There lay the body of Lisanne “like a dish that is broken.” (Psalm 31)

Our friend

who devoured her rice and beans and only used her spoon to scoop more in her hand,

who squabbled constantly and thunderously with Daniel, but who missed him terribly when he went out for wood,

who would store her powdered tobacco in a knot in the bandana she wrapped around her head,

who opened her clouded eyes towards the sun to sense the sunlight
is now a part of it, of us, all.

All the group of ladies from my first salsa class cleaned out her room today and sat to accompany and feel the wind blow by the side of Daniel and the others in Kay Pov.

Now Tiffany will have a bed.

With you,