28 March, 2012

To and From

She laughs as she tells of their escape
from the rural region where they'd built their farm
of chickens and goats, rice fields, some beans.

Despite note being a market woman, she'd been shrewd,
forced to be, in a country ruled by anticipation

of food shortages
of shortages of gasoline,
of shortages
of electricity,
shortages of power,
of power shifts.

Her husband, in his impeccable restraint, recounts
their consideration of the hen-house as refuge,
behind the barbed wire or in the plantain fields
where humans and trees are often confused at night,

while the gunmen, if they came this time,
shot the house, perhaps the dog, indiscriminate
 as the circulating lists of marked individuals:

radio announcers,
students and
the regligious,
so-and-so Jean Baptiste,
followed by
woman of so-and-so
Jean Baptiste.

The woman and man give a nervous laugh
to their daring, how at rooster's crow they crept
into their station wagon and through the hills
of Plaisance, down the coast into Gonaives,
where their old church stood (sign-of-the-cross),
through the Roboteau the army dared not enter,
where the people threw back the clothes the governors
had brought, threw foreign rice into canals.  They drove
quickly around the salted hills, like country-bus drivers,
like all the country's drivers, this time not speeding
for market or goats or grain but for the capital
where namelessness would harbor them.

~ ~ Danielle Legros Georges

"To and From" originally appeared in compost, volume 5, 1994; and is
reprinted with permission of the author.