Anyone who’s been keeping an eye on Japan or Libya knows that the world can still surprise us in its cruelty. It’s a mark of the most talented of poets that they can find the words to draw hope from horror, which is why I am sending you a piece that was written the last time that something this immediate and terrible caught global attention. It’s well worth five minutes of your time; it’s by Jodi Ann Bickley, and it’s called “Haiti and me”. Thanks for checking it out, and take care all,
“Haiti and me”
Wake up. Moan about the snow, milk’s gone off and the shops not open so – you opt for toast instead. Buttered bread, shout at the cat – who looks like it’s ready for combat as you fed yourself and forgot her. Give her some biscuits, she purs – wicked, no scratches; grab your morning fag, no lighter so you search for matches…
Can’t find any so head for an oven ring, forgetting that your flat is electric – go on hectic, to an audience of well no one, feeling lonesome you sit in front of the TV.
News is on, breaking news about Haiti. You have no idea where Haiti is or what the breaking news is – so you watch, out of curiosity. Still got a face on about your lighter, seeking solace in a cup of tea – looking up you see a man covered in dust, wailing for his wife and his kids – says god shouldn’t of taken their lives they should of taken his as he shows the rescue workers a picture.
He points frantically at his treasure and screams at them what they were wearing just for good measure in case they’ve seen them walking around. He falls to the floor, as he hears the news that his wife and son we’re seen walking in this building just before the quake. He screams “faute, faute!” – which is French for mistake but the rescue workers shake their heads, presumed dead as the building no longer stands – but frantic he crawls and searches with his bare hands for his buried treasures. Night is falling, hands are bleeding – but he’ll carry on till the morning as he’s in the company of others doing the same. His world has just fallen to pieces, but he has no-one to point the blame. Screams out the names of his daughter, his son and his wife, as the sun finally gives way to night – he puts his head in his hands. He is tapped on the arm by a rescue worker who says, no need for alarm but can I see that picture again? – He clutches it, refusing to let go of it, he holds it up to his face; “this is my wife, we we’re married for 25 years;” – fighting back tears he shows the man his son, he is eighteen and by twenty-one he wanted to be an accountant – finally this is my daughter, he strokes her face.. the rescue worker asks if her name is Grace? The man replies “Yes”. Explains what she was wearing down to the tiniest details of her dress and the rescue worker says “She is alive”. He takes the man by the hand to oxfams bit of land where they have blankets, water and a few beds. He spots her face, but she’s asleep – tears roll as he slowly creeps, over to her side. His worst day, salvaged by a girl who’s just five. And this is where the camera cuts.
Presenter cues for the political news, and suddenly it all seems irrelevant. Always thought yourself pretty intelligent, but couldn’t feel further from it. They say with youth, wisdom is wasted on it. Sometimes I guess we have to stand back and just see the beauty in that, we can stand at all. That the weather, no lighter, angry pets…aren’t problems – they are quirks, and in a society where some are praying for days where it doesn’t hurt, so much anyway – we can say we are blessed, spoilt at best and overindulged the rest of the time. Look at the sky: that’s for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass on the street; those faces are for you – and the street itself and the 50 bus even though it can piss you off when someone odd sits next to you, it’s for you – the roof above your head, the nights out and the days in and the job you’re not sure if you want to be in, but you are anyway – taking chances and being able to take them, promises and having the choice to break them, risk taking and freedom of speech, having a goal that you know you’re gonna have to work for, but is in reach – that is all for you.
Put your tea down and get your boots on, quick phonecall to your mum just to check she’s ok.
I’m not sure about you, but the weather isn’t going to bother me today.