He does not know how other children in other places have closets filled with toys. He has one blue metal car. For him, it is a spaceship, a boat, a train, a wagon pulled by horses. It is his only way out.
For years, school is hours away. It is dark when he leaves the house, darker when he returns. The soles of his shoes flap against the dirt road; he fastens them with string.
He is no longer a boy when the ground beneath his home grumbles and heaves, when his town falls to rubble. He takes shelter in a tent, walks miles looking for work.
Two weeks later, he is a man nearly emptied of hope when he meets the doctor in blue scrubs, when, for twenty dollars a day, he translates for him—Creole to English—so many stories of suffering and pain.
Everything will be okay: Tout bagay ap pase byen. They both say it until they almost believe. Until a small boy without any arms wanders into the clinic, flies buzzing around his wounds.
Four Sijo (in which I try to tell Adeline’s story)
She faces what is ninety-eight-feet tall, everyday,
its shadow stretching farther and wider than she can see.
There is no way out for her, just hundreds of wrong ways through.
Because where she stands nothing grows unless it dwells inside
her body, she must hold back two hundred tons with the strength
of ten horses. She has no time for myth or make-believe.
She is drawn to the truth, to its blunt force and its bold face.
Because the ground beneath her once swallowed up her ten-month-old son,
she cannot stand in doorways, sleep beneath the weight of a roof.
So she carries on her back what little is left, builds new walls
out of blue tarps and nightmares, looks up at the sky until the earth heals
and she swells again with life, another tiny soul to love.
History Repeats, in Alternating Tanka and Haiku
They marked the houses
today, where the Haitians live.
You ask me to pray.
In silence, I wonder how
my angry words can save you.
Show yourself to me,
God, in the middle of this
Again they come at nightfall
in pick-up trucks, search with lights
for the darkest skin,
for the ones who cannot roll
an R with that Spanish trill.
Say it: perejil,
a sprig of parsley, sing it
so they’ll let you stay.
This is the world now,
even in New York City
they stared hard at us:
black boy, white girl, together,
how they wanted a story.
Brother and sister,
mother and son, two lovers—
why must it matter?
Our blood seeps the same
color; it flows and it floods
the freshly cut fields
of sugar cane. They strip you
down to memory and bone.
Let me hear your voice,
God, like molasses and rum,
drip sweet from his tongue.
Anatomical Study: Head
Her face tells of the earth’s buckle and breach, of fear untold and the fibrous tissue of bone swelling beneath skin.
*Note: such hostile replication.
How they all stare and she hides in the coil and knot of scarves, magenta and chartreuse, how she holds back words so they cannot see what grows wild inside her mouth.
*Note: there is no cure.
Today: more sawing and chipping away at maxilla and jawbone to calm the storm, to slow the measure of everything that has no end.
Kristina Moriconi is a poet and essayist. She is the author of the chapbook, No Such Place (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her work has appeared most recently in Cobalt Review, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Crab Creek Review, and is forthcoming in december. In 2014, she was named the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Poet Laureate. She lives and teaches now in suburban Philadelphia where she co-founded and now helps to sustain the nonprofit, Men Anpil (Many Hands), working to help educate Haitian students who will ultimately become medical professionals in their country.