1/13/2010

RAMA: Weeping for Haiti

RAMA

Jer. 31:15 Ainsi dit l'Éternel: Une voix a été ouïe à Rama, une lamentation, des pleurs amers, Rachel pleurant ses fils, refusant d'être consolée au sujet de ses fils, parce qu'ils ne sont pas.


It appears that somewhere deep below Carrefour,
near Port au Prince

the North American and Caribbean plates
moved after two centuries of tense engagement.

Six miles up, at four fifty-three in the afternoon,
January 12th,
Rachel began anew to weep for her children.

The sun was blotted from the sky
and the dust rose
and the night came
with agony in the buildings
and anguish in the streets.
It was day and night, the first day.

Rachel's people,
They are no more,
All have gone down,
Down with the presidential palace,
Down with the churchly palace,
Down with the all the places of block and mortar,
Down to death.

Day has come again
and still, Rachel weepsand in the hovels of Cite Soleil,
and the villages back in the hills
where the shacks and houses
are wood, and loose,
The poor remain.
A terrible old man on TV
Thinks Haitians made a pact with the devil
And now are paying the price.

Haitians believe black and free
Can be conjoined ideas,
and for that idea
which white men said was of the devil

they have been paying the price ever since.

And Rachel has been paying the price forever,
And the weeping now is the weeping then,

It is easier to simply say the tectonic plates have moved
And earthquakes happen
than it is to say much else.

Yet somehow it seems injury on top of insult
That Rachel’s children pay for being black,
And free, and simply six miles up from moving plates.

No, better they not pay back,
not one gourde,
not to the man, not to the God
of physics and geology,
not to the accidents of history.

Better Black, free, and standing
than obligated by catastrophe.

Rachel weeps, and then gathers
The children of the streets
And begins again
To find the republic for which
The children dream,
and God dreams.

Unconsoled, but not without recompense,
there is now a time of waiting in Rama,
and then a new day.

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