The ionic columns hold nothing up
Not the twin cupolas that welcomed mariners to Port-au-Prince
Not the grand round windows of stained-glass ikons
Not the novenas of those who died in the fallen girders,
Unless you count the blue dome of vacant air
The ruined, ruined facades
The hovering stench —
Has Boukman triumphed?
Do Legba and Ghede aka Baron Samedi mount the buried altars?
Does Ogoun lie entombed in this broken peristyle?
Do these curious questions matter to the houngan
Crying down the mess of fallen masonry
To touch his daughter’s ears?—
Outside the shattered cathedral
The women kneeling in the dust
Raise rosaries to the familiar Haitian sky
And lift their psalms
Past the ionic columns
That hold nothing up.
(c) Photo by Shaul Schwarz/Reportage by Getty Images.
(c) John Robert Lee