published in “The Company of Heaven” and in “Haiti Noir 2: The Classics”
… One hears that men from Jeremie have pretensions to a kind of inspired singularity; they often succeed at it. It is one of those who, in the evening, at an Auberge Inn table, told me what he knew of Gustave’s death, and this man, himself looking like a great grasshopper of a man wearing full clothes, and seen to fold his long, dry limbs over a din-maker of a motorcycle which he hangs onto like some insects do onto their wings; his high legs seem to want to make him trip over himself while he comes towards you; his hair is a fleece full of obstinate curls, white hills that start from the top of his forehead and follow one another all the way and out of sight around the curvy horizon of his head; of an eagle, he has the fixed stare: one eye that absorbs you because the man has passion, because he watches, and one eye that is no longer one but that continues to see the last image received, this eye said to have been lost at guerilla warfare of another people than ours.
He also told me about Roland’s death, Gustave’s father—pushed out of a plane above Jeremie’s ocean…
The sea appears to cover all, drag all to engulf all, and forget all. On a night of a full moon at a Grande Anse beach, winds push the waves until they come and topple over each other on the beach. The same sea that delivered Gustave to the shores of Dame Marie continues to edge this island as it did our lives.
Our lives go up high like waves for only a brief moment, and then die down on the littoral. But they don’t get wasted and lost there as we think—the sea takes them back, ebbs, and contains them. In its water’s depth, the sea keeps the world’s memory. This immensity where one would like to be dissolved, that attracts and frightens us, also allows us to touch God with the mind. Mystics say that what is below reflects what is above. In Haiti, popular belief has it that the world under the sea reflects all that is on earth. The journey underwater is a mystical voyage wherefrom one returns transformed and powerful. Sky, earth, and sea: Maybe all that is but a single great canvas on which color zones touch each other without interrupting the thread. I do not know in which color zone Gustave now happens to live, but I know that he is nevertheless able to reach, and continues to touch my being in the zone where I find myself captive.