On my first morning, I woke early because I couldn’t sleep anyway. This was a new and dusty place, and my nostrils flared every two minutes, instinctively pierced by the particles floating around.

I walked outside and peered over the bannister, and at 5.30am, this young girl sat on a bucket, down below, selling popcorn. Her shoulders were pressed forward leaning on the heartstrings of passers by, “achte pòpkòn”, then she would pause, “kounye a” before repeating herself again, and again. Her voice was light and feminine, neither begging nor aggressing…simply asking, with an expectation, “Buy popcorn..now..”

For a long while I stood there looking down at her contemplating my own childhood. It would be the first of many jarring sights. Later that day, we visited the orphanage and everywhere, the dust, caked against my ankle. It was the type that left a film. It was much like this country, leaving a thin coat over my consciousness.

This is what poverty felt like,
a stench in the air,
of dirty water,
not quite fresh but not yet stale,
running along uncut paths
To homes where naked children ran freely,
Beaming tainted smiles and bare feet.
I hummed emotionless through the next few days until the river broke
but could not
wash Ayiti out of my eyes.
All the brown,
a morose color,
a sad place burdened by reparations
And crippled by greed,
Populated with happy hands,
holy in deed
and dead
that bled
to sacrifice itself
for an ungrateful Caribbean.
Whose fault is this?
And after leaving this place,
for a long while, my prayers grew agnostic
because if meaning could be scrawled on the dust of this place,
some corrupt official’s hot temper could wash it away with piss.
After he’d drank from the cup of Ayiti’s wine,
another snake without a spine,
leading these fierce warriors
Brave and rich then made to kneel,
Ayiti my soul wept when I saw you,
And I’ve since forgotten you,
but never in spirit,
you’ve slept whilst you’ve left us the ticket
To enter our true selves,
at the cost of your forgetfulness
of who you are.
Ayiti…

– janberry – 23Apr2019 © 8.50pm

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