Ayiti Cheri’m (My Dear Haiti)

 (A poem that I wrote following the 2010 Haiti Earthquake)

The Earth moved from beneath my feet on January 12, 2010.
No, my soles were nowhere near the tropical soil, but still…
From 5000 miles away, in Big Ben’s shadow, I was shaken

Her native language rolls awkwardly off my tongue,
heavily accented by its intimacy with American English and Western culture…
And her cultural norms are as foreignly familiar to me
As the “American ways” I was hatefully accused of by a mother
Who had little patience for my scholarly notions of feminism
Despite the fact that she embodied the vast majority of them.

My Motherland, as much responsible for my existence
As this star spangled bannered one, if not more
The only connection that I could make was stolen Skype chats with my mum
And the clatter of my pounds hitting the bucket of the local Red Cross volunteer
At the central London tube stations after making change to top up my oyster card

The donations were small and almost insignificant
But necessary for I was desperate for any connection
That would bring me closer to understanding my uselessness
When all I wanted to do was help

Instead I watched video after video,
News story after news story of people crying out to God
In that foreignly familiar language that I hesitantly speak…

And I could offer nothing but my spare change and non-specific prayers, hoping someone heard them and not me