"The Situation" II - Minneapolis/Port-au-Prince

....the poorest, the dérangé, the outlaw and the wretched, all of them not-human-enough, are used to the show...

Beaudelaine PIERRE is a journalist, scholar, and novelist who writes about her native Haiti and her adopted US. Her award-winning essay collection You May have the Suitcase Now will appear in the fall of 2020 from New Rivers Press.


For a split second I felt relieved to be momentarily out of the world’s glare. The splendor of being the people of the wrong gene and skin color and geography often rests in the natural happenstances of quakes, of cholera, Minista, Youwèn, coup d’état, and revolisyon taking turn and going round and around. You don’t suppose (or not yet) that the spectacle is at its truest before it has been put together in show circuses. Here and now, the dead fall like scattered raindrops clustering. It’s a good thing, I have a backyard, another home, another hole to fall into. A new outbreak is always greater than the one before and, Haiti is not the Youwès.

Its familiar has pertinence, no immediacy: 11 million people and counting, 124 ICU beds, 64 ventilators, political unrest, kidnapping by day, halfway state of emergencies at night, turmoil and matters of all kinds, like in no other place, threading their way into the sun in spidery lines. In the circularity of things being both ends and beginnings, an atom outbreak doesn’t just disappear. It diffracts itself, branches one geography line to another’s, disintegrates genomic trees and past-future-present. We were already awfully sequentially distant, and most of us dead and dying. Community dancing and beach and block parties in state declared emergencies in the time of covid-19 is the only common sense. Fall 2019 and the autumns before, schools were closed in Port-au-Prince and the dead continuously piled up in the corner of Pòtay Leyogàn. Death swaps one hand for another, yet, Youwès was Haiti long before the Ricains saw themselves splitting out of their own circumference.

The world is racing against covid-19. But the poorest, the dérangé, the outlaw and the wretched, all of them not-human-enough, are used to the show. How silly, right? that the coronavirus is suddenly the enemy. Let covid-19 derange and split quietly, quietly; let the entire assemblage of poul pèpè, of you-man-kind, and baobabs quake, crack, crumble down; and let the remains, whatever they might be, take it from there.