(for the Haitian people)
The wind whispers no warning,
spirits within are unaware but still
they rouse in incomprehensible insomnia,
Ancestors have no sign to give.
The Painted Lady is coming
bringing the taste of dust to our lips.
The aftershocks of all our losses
reverberate, tremble us and
we are brought to our knees
with dust, earth, rubble.
Dust and ancestors and bones and dust and pain and desire
and dust and freedom and dust and slavery and dust.
Suffocating dust of dream-like ghosts
freed from earth when rumbling begins.
Tectonic shifts and plates grinding
like old bones of dead ancestors.
The Painted Lady has come,
walks among us – living and dead and dust.
Dust settles among us, in every crevice
snowing upon the city, quieting
blanketing muffled cries, sobs,
crash of walls, screams of injured,
lost darkness survivors,
boom of exploding electrical boxes,
chasms shifting below.
Silent dust permeating every space
talcum fine baby powder dust
coating the cilia of hairs in nose and lungs
rising in a cloud like the second coming.
See the woman in the distance,
painted like a tribal dancer?
Dust, blood thicken upon her.
The Painted Lady is here.
She stands and absorbs the dust, blood,
Spirits of ancestors, of earth, rock, trees wander
confused by her presence.
Why has she called them forth with no warning
what does she want with her dust and destruction?
Dust thickens upon them in the wake of questions
but soon the tears will flow, leave tracks, bring the
living rain and thicken the dust to mud.
Dust and mud, not the mud of beauty, of spas.
This mud will not erase worry, age, illness.
Mud born of disaster, like their cousin Katrina,
born of poverty, mud under the nail of the oppressor’s thumb.
Mud of despair, of hopelessness
mud in your pores, in your blood.
Corpses piling in roadways, mud, dust,
families vanished, dust, mud, collapsed buildings,
dust, mud, infected drinking water, mud, dust,
hunger, dust, backalley amputations, mud, blood,
sleeping on streets, dust, mud, tears, anguish, mud, dust
muffled cries of despair mud, dust settle
before the last tremors take down the hopes of the living.
The Painted Lady vanishes into confusion,
her open lips blow dust one last time
leave us with the taste of her kiss,
and leave her words in our mouths