April 12, 2017
Dear Edwidge

—Janine Harrison
Posted in celebration of National Poetry Month

“Writers don’t leave any mark in the world.  Not in the world where we are from.  In our world, writers are tortured and killed if they are men.  Called lying whores, then raped and killed, if they are women.”
                     —From Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat

If you had stayed
in Haiti,
would scarcity,
          terror,
have buried your voice
as a landslide
a thatch-roofed hut?
Would attempted speech
have been struck
as a scythe
to sugar cane?
You, who became
the mouthpiece
of your homeland,
broken, beautiful.

A wind-torn soul
apparent in your eyes
as a young author
speaks to me from
Krik? Krak!,
asks me to act
          readers to act
on behalf of
mothers lost in
daughters of
Massacre River*
to stem its tide of red
the long Hispaniolan history
of red:
     death
     torture
     rape
     sacrificial lives
overflowing banks
yet today—
women with wings
of flame
ascending to the sun.

Where would we be
without your resolve
                    mettle
to inscribe the unspeakable
onto blank paper
and circulate pages from the sky?

I met you in Chicago.
We bonded over the blessing
of having daughters
who love to read.

*Massacre River – For five days in 1937, Dominican Republic President Trujillo had the Haitian immigrants who lived on his borderlands exterminated by soldiers with guns, machetes, clubs, and knives.  Some died while trying to cross the Artibonite River to Haiti.  Mortality estimates ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 victims have been cited.

 
—Janine Harrison (Lake County)

Janine Harrison teaches creative writing at Purdue University Northwest and is a former Indiana Writers’ Consortium president.  Her writing has appeared in Veils, Halos, & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of WomenA&UNot Like the Rest of Us:  An Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers, and other publications.  Former Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras included Janine’s work in his The Wabash Watershed “Six Indiana Women Poets” feature.

Poetry Prompt: A Letter to Someone You Admire
Directly address someone you admire. This person could be a writer, artist, social reformer, inventor, scientist, explorer . . . or someone admirable but not famous, like an immigrant ancestor or a coach or teacher. Vividly show us why this person inspires you. What do you do now or in the future that is because of this person’s example?

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.

Posted In: Poetry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *