The Nameless: A Poem for Haiti

by    /  May 21, 2010  / No comments

Devastating Earthquake hits Haiti
Haiti Lies in Ruins
Grim Search for the Untold Dead

The poorest country in the western hemisphere
they repeat like a curse.
Nearly 200,000 may be dead.
See it all on High Definition TV
before falling asleep.

There will be images of the untold dead.
The nameless ones to pity or ignore,
depending on how we feel that night.

Close your eyes and see a girl
in her blue school uniform, bent over her lessons.
Her mother at the stove hums and stirs with a wooden spoon
the milk and sugar to make douce lait.

When the earth surges like a wave they both fall
to their knees. They sing Beni Swa Leternel
Blessed be the Lord.
Rattling roof, crumbling house, concrete to dust.
Waiting in the dark
for the end of the world.

Beneath the rubble the mother’s voice echoes,
until by dawn it is hardly a whisper.
Light a candle for me.

There is always time for a miracle,
Schoolgirl rescued among the ruins.
Narratives of redemption, sell.
The reporter composes a face well practiced,
compassionate concern.
You see, miracles really do happen.
(Cut to commercial.)

They were not always nameless, the untold dead.
For every face the camera does not capture
there is a name, and memories
of murmured songs half-remembered
and sweet milk.

Even the uncounted, the forgotten, the unseen
and unknown, the ones on rutted roads
shrouded in white with scribbled cardboard signs,
even they, have a name.

Remember the nameless,
before turning away.

READ the suggested reading list of Haitian literature prepared by Nadine Pinede and Danielle Legros George

Click here to read Nadine’s bio.

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