Haiti | Sojourners


In Port-au-Prince a warm cloud
drops down off Kenscoff most afternoons,
washing away the flies and oily water,
the piss and rot from yesterday;
and the people wash themselves.

A black candle in a black night burning.

In the plantain trees halfway
to Petion-ville hides a tranquil dovecote, shady
green music for the pink guesthouse,
the pink guests by the pool. With
a periodic screech, le president-a-vie
of a local yard and coop rudely
arrogates the hottest hours of cool rum drinks.

A rat at the end of a hawser, dangling.

Men do not carry refrigerators on their backs
in the salable primitivist paintings;
women do not wash clothes in sewers.
All is clothed in colors, green cane
and palms turn to blue sea, reds and
yellows all clothe a black night skin.

A skin enclosing doves and juvenile roosters.
Closed in, the way eyelids cover bad dreams.
The way clear panes keep flies in from the sky.

John F. Montag, S.J., was a Jesuit seminarian studying philosophy at St. Louis University when this poem appeared.

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