13 Trees

13 Trees

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From the series, 13 Roadside Trees, Haiti 2009
[see the complete set here]

I have driven past these trees many times, at a junction of route nacional 3, on the way to Boucan-Carré and Corporan. Despite the gnarled, cancerous trunks, they have survived decades of roadside dust and pollution. They remain, lined up, steadfastly providing shade during the glaring day and markers at night (the land falls sharply down to the Artibonite river).

The photograph of the butterfly was made just further along the road and up hill from this area. And another poem by one of the same group of writers, the Society of Butterflies, comes to mind:


For Juilo Jean-Pierre and Nicolas Hyppolite, Jr.

“We’re butterflies we carry news to them”

Speech has crawled up a tree
Ougon Feray’s vèvè*
rips time to shreds

A student without a school
has lost his voice at Titanyen
His breath
is a burst of air
the language of oxygen
at the heart of a tiny flame
waiting for the wind
to make the bonfire dance

His voice is locked up
but his dreams
are the artillery of words loaded
to uncoil our strength

*vèvè is the symbol of a voodoo spirit often traced on the floor of a voodoo temple, with flour

Kaptenn KouKouwouj (Michele-Ange Hyppolite)
from the extraordinary bi-lingual anthology of Haitian Creole poetry, Open Gate

Hasselblad 500C/M, 80mm Planar lens, Fuji P400 film