Port-au-Prince, My Beloved Town, My Beloved People
An earthquake has hit my town.
My town is crying.
My town is mourning.
My town lies in ruins.
Anaida, my daughter, I hear you from under the rubble.
Anaida, your leg is stuck under the solid cement ceiling.
Anaida, I feel your pain, that labor pain.
Anaida, I wish I were in your place to take away your pain.
Anaida, I hear your prayer, “Oh God please save me.”
Anaida, here are your glasses.
These glasses so needed to read Psalm 23.
I see you, Laure, the mother under the debris.
Whose children could not tell you, one last time,
How much they loved you.
It is too late.
I can see your crushed fingers.
Were you trying to crawl out?
I collapse at your sight.
This is an unbearable and unimaginable pain.
How they miss your endless love.
Raphael, my brother, I finally found you.
I thought you had died.
For three days, I could not eat.
I drank only my tears.
I hear you are behind the exit door of the Caribbean Market.
The rescue workers from New Zealand,
Are trying to get you out.
What an immense joy to know that my brother is alive!
My dear Kettly, I am so sorry.
Two years, since we last spoke.
I did not say goodbye.
All we know is that you went to work at the Montana Hotel, And we never heard from you again.
I remember you, so vibrant and happy at school.
So many school days spent together and so much laughter.
My house, the house I was born in,
Which has so many happy memories:
Memories of the brightly painted rooms,
The cold morning showers, the turtle in the basin,
The blackboard used for so many math and physics problems,
The view of Castel Haiti from the backyard,
The Wharf and Place Jérémie from the balcony.
My house is cracked and leaning as if to fall to the ground. The blackboard shards lie scattered.
Castel Haiti, a seven-story building, has collapsed.
The Wharf is submerged in water.
Place Jérémie is the largest shelter,
And tent city in Bas Peu de Choses.
My churches collapsed to the ground.
Oh, St Gerard,
I still hear that early 4 a.m. bell chiming,
Along with the roosters on a nearby tree.
I remember your powerful presence,
With your imposing cross.
Oh, Sacré Coeur,
Church of my First Communion,
Oh, did I sing, “J’étais dans la joie, Allelouia”.
St Louis de Bourdon, my beloved school,
You remain with cracked walls and broken windows.
You gave me great moments and memories.
I promise to carry the flame handed to me by my predecessors.
Sœur Claire, who prayed with us for so many years,
Will you pray for my people?
Port- au-Prince, my beloved town,
Will I see you one day in splendor and glory?
Will I see you once again,
As the Port-au-Prince my mom told me about?
I come to you now. An avan!
(Elizabeth Hricko, a registered nurse, serves as in the Advisory Board of the AMHE-NJ Chapter. She works in Essex County.)