American Airlines Put Us in First Class,
Miami to Port-au-Prince, After a 24-Hour Delay
by Kyle Laws
Greets us with champagne
as we sit in our seats,
feeds us chilled salmon over greens,
pita chips & red pepper hummus,
wine with our meal.
The warmed cookies for dessert
we share with Roger Jean Charles &
Pere Max who have waited two hours
at the airport damaged in quake.
We depart to rows of men
offering to carry bags—
some with one hand lost
to falling buildings and debris.
As I drizzled sesame dressing
over salmon salad greens,
I was uncomfortable,
aware of extremes,
think about it again
under a drizzle of shower
only a 1/16 inch stream
in a concrete bungalow in Montrouis,
mosquito nets draped over cots,
jalousie windows closed against bugs,
fan rotating until 11 p.m.
when the generator goes off
Previously published in Exit 13 and in George Sand’s Haiti (Poetry West, 2013, co-winner of their chapbook award).
IMAGE: “Bird in lush leaves, Haiti” by Wadson Devsainvil. Original available at etsy.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Haiti is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and Jamaica and south of The Bahamas. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti has an estimated population of 11.1 million, making it the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Cuba. Europeans first arrived December 5, 1492 during the initial voyage of Christopher Columbus, who subsequently founded the first European settlement in the Americas, La Navidad, on what is now the northeastern coast of Haiti. The island was claimed by Spain, forming part of the Spanish Empire until the early 17th century. Competing claims and settlements by the French led to Spain ceding the western portion of the island to France in 1697. In the midst of the French Revolution (1789–99), slaves and free people of color launched the Haitian Revolution in 1791. After 12 years of conflict, French forces were defeated and Haiti was declared a sovereignty in 1804.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I made four trips to Haiti, both before and after the 2010 earthquake. The first time I went, I had only one French book on my shelf, George Sand’s Lettres D’un Voyageur, which seemed appropriate to the trip. George Sand was born the same year, 1804, that Haiti gained independence from France.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kyle Laws is based out of Steel City Art Works in Pueblo, Colorado, where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Ride the Pink Horse (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing, 2018), This Town: Poems of Correspondence coauthored with Jared Smith (Liquid Light Press, 2017), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press, 2015), and Wildwood (Lummox Press, 2014). With eight nominations for a Pushcart Prize and one for Best of the Net, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Germany. She is editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. Visit her on Facebook.