Poem for Haiti


year: 2008


Written after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, 2008

  The landscape must be flat now, The concrete hills compressed, Rushed into the past, Just another slab of dust From which future generations Will prise remnants of last week, Meals eaten off cheap plates - She bought them as our ‘in-betweens’ – That now will represent our buried dreams And all we had in centuries to come.   Yet I, it seems, am not quite dead. I must be lying in what people call A pocket. Of air. I can’t see anything or feel anything But in my pocket, I can breathe.   What a perfect place to die! All I ever looked for when living Was a quiet place to think and be myself. This death of mine will be much like this life Save the rubble was then rabble: Shards of splintered aspirations Pressing down on every side. A weight to fossilize the living.   The trick to surviving is Not to think of moving, Not to daydream of escape. Countless friends and colleagues Left on treasure hunts for oxygen: Yet every letter home fragments, misty-eyed, For shells of taste, warmth and fragrance.

Listen to that. It sounds like tapping: Heroes prodding sticks through cracks To pull me broken from this womb, To a ranting symphony of prayer and flashbulb. I fancy I can even hear My darling brother calling out my name, Hoarse from white, frantic tears. No. The illusion that Moving brings betterment Is not for me.   Wait, what is that buzzing? Is this fly my fate? What a glorious swipe of irony – My last companion to the great beyond, The witness to my final testament. Or are we not so ill-suited after all? If you run after a fly, you will never catch it, And if you see it near, one grab and it is gone – In circles, without direction, except away.   No. The trick to being happy Is not to think of moving. Stay still, and allow it To settle On you.