Monday, February 17, 2014

The house on the hill

After 46 years, fear return 
Memories came back, every single 
corner of house
an old fire station.

A work in progress:  trust
pour from 
the seams of her soul-
a hazard.
It's dangerous; its dark program

endlessly fascinating.
She will always return to house
and rebuild it

like a dream. 

Photography by Manuel Cosentino

Original article here: I've created a different story from erasing words in the same order, without adding any word.   In part:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI—It’s 7 a.m. and Michaëlle Jean is bouncing — bright-eyed and bursting with 
enthusiasm — in the back of a United Nations truck to her first appointment of another packed day.
After four years of searching, she found her childhood home last week. The one she snuck out of 46 years ago, for 
fear the Tonton Macouteswould return again for her father and, this time, finish him off.
“We knocked, there was a woman there. I asked her if I can come in,” she recalls, as all around us the city groggily 
pulls itself from bed.

“I was like a kid, I was so excited. So many memories came back to me: every single corner of that house, the 
staircase, the rooms, the balcony … My mother used to rock me on her lap on the balcony.”
“There is an old tradition of plant doctors in Haiti, who grow special botanical products,” Jean says. “If 
production can be raised to a standard quality, Haiti could access a $67-billion market.”
A renovated fire station, the creation of a consortium of universities working in Haiti, the electrification of the 
Citadel, food canteens in poor neighbourhoods — it’s hard to keep track of Jean’s projects, she has so many in the 
works. They might seem disparate, she admits, but they all reinforce the government’s own “very focused” 
development plan.
“I see what they’ve delivered with the little leverage they’ve got. People say you have to earn trust, but how long 
does it take?” she says.
“It’s always going to be a work in progress. I think if people can trust Haiti more, trust the government of Haiti, 
trust the Haitian plan like they pretended they would, instead of taking the same old approach of ‘we’ll take care of it in our own way’ …”
As her car bounces through the city’s congested suburbs, frustration and enthusiasm pour from Jean. She races 
after her thoughts in English, then French, then English again. This, I think, is why she is still so treasured in 
Canada: she is surprisingly honest and disarmingly emotional. She bustles all the seams of her soul into her work.
When a group of little girls with hot pink bows bouncing in their hair flash through the windshield, she bursts: 
“We need to make sure these children are walking to institutions of quality … I was in Jalousie (shantytown). I 
couldn’t even imagine children studying in the school we saw. It is a hazard. It’s dangerous, it’s dark. Oh no, really, no….”
We are on our way to a school in Grand-Goâve, a small town near the epicentre of the 2010 earthquake. The 
teachers there are taking professional development courses taught by Quebec university professors. This 
program, she funds.
“This country is endlessly fascinating and occasionally frustrating,” she says. “I am always in 
that space of how much can be done and what this country has to offer.”
Her term ends this fall. She is considering her next move, perhaps to the Organisation 
International de la Francophonie.
But she will always return to Haiti, she says, just like she always returns to Canada. They are 
both her homes now. “If I could only buy that house and rebuild it,” she says. “I don’t have the money to do that. 
But it’s like a dream.

Posted for Imaginary Garden for Real Toads - OpenLinkMonday - Thanks for the visit ~
and Out of the Standard - Erasure Poetry


  1. It has this feeling of lingering sweet memories. Lovely write, good morning.

  2. quite the challenges in the garden this past week, first an erasure, then a quatern. I was completely novice to both. I think your treatment here is well done, as it moves upwards from the bit of fear in the first stanza, to the hope in the final ~

  3. there is an eerie menacing feel about the lines...

  4. Love it, Grace. I especially like the voice of the island I can hear.

  5. Seems like Fear, Trust, and Hope merge in this location, like a family reunion inside the soul of one who cannot let go.

  6. An excellent use of the challenge, the poem much better I think than what such a challenge affords (my opinion). Interesting how something so personal and deep can be mined from a random text. Maybe that's why we read, to read our own story inside.

  7. Fear can keep us wise and bring on hope to rebuild again

  8. the part i felt so touching was the last bit
    on returning o the house to rebuild it...
    i would agree with brendan, for an erasure you got plenty of feeling in this one

  9. fascinating de/re-construct.

    btw, does it bother you that blogger places the text next to the pictures rather than below?
    It does me, but I found a way round it.

  10. Oh revisiting memories and places from the past...such a kaleidoscope of emotions that it creates.

  11. Wonderful. Every corner of the house being an old fire station, trust pouring from the seams of her soul and rebuilding of the house like a dream... the construction of it from the article is endearing. Beautiful work.

  12. Such a beautiful picture - the perfect accompaniment to your poem. I would never have guessed it was an erasure poem. You did an excellent job of selecting powerful phrases and also creating a mysterious, melancholy mood.

  13. wow.. so much story wrapped into this... lots of emotion... well done Grace

  14. Scary at the beginning...and hope at the end ~ Nice photo ~ Hard form, I didn't have time to try....maybe next time ~ Good day to you ~

  15. So many emotions gather in this is amazing what can be created in an erasure poem...from fear to hope..a wonderful leap

  16. Grace,
    You've really made a beautiful poem from the larger story. It has a real arc of development. The last three lines give the work a great finished finality. Fine poem.
    Steve K.

  17. A nice poem with lots of meaning, Grace. The house I was born and raised in was bulldozed down a couple of years ago. I have memories but no way could I rebuild or have it done. It stays built in my memories though. Four rooms with a sleeping porch on the front for Jim
    Jim's old Nebraska home place (at the selling time)

  18. A very chic way of doing it. A good form to adopt.
    Memories that linger on have a life of its own. It fills a void that can mend lonely hearts.
    Wonderful write Grace!


  19. The article and poem stand on their own. The article is about a woman who seems determined to bring a better quality of life to the far corners of our world, your poem reminds me that we can tuck our fears away, even overcome them, but they are still a part of us. Nicely done. The image is spectacular.

  20. I felt the fear. Also very cool how the language, not exactly proper and a bit cut up, makes them feel more like memories. Pieces here and there.

  21. Amazing Grace, I'd not heard of this form...but how interesting, how FUN! You extracted, created your own story from another.

    WHO of "certain age" cannot zip back 46 years, and find the dream remains, again entertains, ourself driven to live on, rebuild, redo, revive, and never die.
    (It's what I read here. Thank you..
    PEACE and LIGHT, Amazing Grace!

  22. To keep going, to keep walking, to keep rebuilding; ourselves and the things surrounding us.

    I enjoyed this poem.

  23. How can people (i.e. you) create such amazing poetry from erasure poetry? My own attempts are rather puny and ridiculous. Not for sharing, certainly.
    And I've only just now realised you're from Canada - one of the countries I support most at the Winter Olympics (together with Norway).

  24. Once we have something to hold on to, fear doesn't disappears, but it transcends something that keeps us in chains and turns into sort of a hope manufacturing machine. This one has weight and not necessarily the burden of weight, because weight can be comfortable once we have become accustomed to carrying it. Great writing Grace.

  25. Color me impressed, Grace. At first I thought you made a typo but when I saw it was consistent, I knew something was up. Well done. As always, thank you. Have a beautiful week!

  26. You aced this challenge!

  27. Ah beautiful beautiful ... a lovely poem !!!


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