Story Publication logo December 13, 2010



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Last January's earthquake destroyed Haiti's health care system, once at the forefront of the...

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Multiple Authors
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Image by Andre Lambertson, Haiti, 2010.

For Joel Sainton

This is a home,
this is a shelter,
these walls, shaken,
the lines of jagged
cracks, the split
at the ceiling
that lets in light
and rain—this is
my comfort, here,
deep in the catacombs
of Port-au-Prince,
shaded by a giant
breadfruit tree
with its fragile
branches, its bounty;
here where the yard
is cluttered with trash,
trying leaves, and
broken bricks
salvaged from the ruins
dumped here for use,
they keep saying,
later—they being
those searching
through the broken
houses for paper,
and if truth be told,
money, bread, pots,
clothes and an answer
to our calling of her
name. This is home,
where I pray each
night: "Teach me
the calculus of Job,
teach me the madness
of Hosea, teach me
how to be a priest
of suffering, teach
me how to not
gamble your name
for my gain, teach me
to dream of open skies,
air clear as creek
water for these ravaged
lungs, fruit to flesh
out these bones
under my beaten skin,
sugar to make me fat.
May you wake me
before the next
cataclysm, that I
might rise and leave
this place before
it, too, collapses
like all things have—
teach me how
to sleep deeply
with faith that you
will wake me when
it is time; and teach
me to sleep with no
hope of rising under
this cracked shelter,
teach me, this man,
listless like, blood
sick like this, shunned
like this. Teach me
the way of Job,
teach me."



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