Monday, August 16, 2010

for a while in haiti

for a while
it was just too terrible
to live inside the sharp edges
of my skin
so i went away-

for a while i was the swelling
in the gecko's neck-

for a while i was the blur
of hummingbird wings-

for a while i was waxy palm leaves
and ripe fruit-

for a while
i sunk into the sounds
that made no sense-
the singing and wailing and screaming-
the rooster call
and barking dogs
and the blare of radio distortion-

for a while i was anywhere but here.

then i slipped into the blackness
of my own heart
and found myself
a foreign country
speaking a strange tongue
gesturing wildly to make myself

i found myself searching for
a familiar road-
something not covered in
dust and suffering-
something soft and cool-
something beneath this fever dream-

something like your voice
speaking my name-
speaking words i can understand-
calling me home.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

bel ti zwazo de (beautiful little bird two)

photos by marcia erickson

i've never seen a hummingbird sit still as long as my little friend has been lately. maybe jesus is trying to tell me something.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

new words i'm learning

move rev: nightmare
pe: afraid
kraze: break/smash
soufri: suffer
doute: doubt
kwe: believe

Friday, August 6, 2010

bel ti zwazo (beautiful little bird)

when i sit out on the balcony of providence house, there's a little hummingbird that comes to refresh herself in the fruit tree in the yard. the tree is lush and green and full of life. geckos hang out there and puff out their necks as they dance their funny gecko dance. there are huge flying insects with plump black bodies and bright orange wings that float among the branches. years ago, you never saw birds in haiti. we asked the girls about this and they said they used to eat the birds. i'm not sure what to think about that, but for whatever reason, the birds have returned. this gives me hope. maybe life is returning to this place. if all you ever saw was the trees in this yard, you'd think you were in paradise.

but this is not paradise.

Monday, August 2, 2010

the importance of belonging

it's hard for me to find words to describe what i do when i'm in haiti. the truth is, it's easier to navigate the language barrier from english to kreyol than it is to navigate the cultural differences and the problem of communicating my experience here back to the people i've left behind.

when i first got here i was surprised by the difficulty i had getting comfortable. i've been to haiti over a dozen times so i expected that i would be just fine. but what i found when i got here is that about three days in i experienced a deep loneliness and near desperation. the heat is difficult for me and i've had migraines every day since i arrived, but i don't think that accounts for what was going on with me. i cried a lot and felt a lot of panic about my ability to make it to september.

when i think back on it, i realize that the language wasn't making sense to me yet - my brain wasn't hearing and understanding it yet - so i felt isolated from the girls. i was a stranger in a way. marcia had been here three weeks when i arrived and it was obvious that everyone was very comfortable with her. she had picked up a lot of kreyol in that time. so i was an outsider feeling like things would be like this for my whole whole stay in haiti. it was awful.

since that day, things have been much better for me. i'm starting to get in a groove with the language. i'm picking up things that went over my head in the days after i first arrived. i've been able to connect with the girls and they're warming up to me too. this has made all the difference. it's just as hot and i'm still getting headaches every day, but i can handle that. it's good to begin to pass through the doors of belonging...even in this place where i will never really belong.

i've even started to have fun.

more later...