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a164: This Week in Haiti 19:41 12/26/01 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.
"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
December 26,2001 - January 1, 2002
Vol. 19, No. 17
DAWNING OF A NEW DAY
by Katia Ulysse
The winter morning had reclaimed its grayish hue from the night
sky; and even though a darker gray still skirted the horizon, a
new day had come.
My eyes waited for the orange blush from the East to
overtake the gray, when an enthusiastic light flickering above
the city caught my attention. I thought it was an airplane --
noticing them more now since Sept. 11th. However, this plane did
not move. A minute elapsed, but the sparkling light -- a guest of
Night, a star, reluctant to accept the fact that its time had
passed -- refused to budge.
While the grayish-blue of the sky turned an opaque white in
some places, sanguine in others, the dark sarong at the horizon
slowly vaporized. Clouds of translucent pink and a regal tint of
lavender drifted from east to west, compelling the star to
A new day had come, annihilating the darkness, displacing
the moon and the stars - even Night's most brazen guests must
surrender to the dawn. The clouds continued to sail above the
city. I looked again where the star had been, and there it was.
The flicker had become an unflinching silver beacon. I wondered
if it had not been told -- this star -- to leave graciously when
Light wielded its glory, conquering the sky entirely, and
expelling the last star. Crows perched on rooftops, flocked
toward and around the purple island hovering miles above the
naked trees. Morning celebrated its victory with golden streamers
cast by the rising sun. Night was somewhere else now, and that
dedicated star's light was wanted there -- in the same sky
covering the world like a roof over a single-family house.
Whether the tenants are divided among themselves as the peoples
of the earth are divided, whether they shake hands, kiss, or kill
one another, all deeds are done within the same four walls, under
the same sky.
Standing on my uncle's porch a few miles north of
Port-au-Prince, a quiet darkness descended over the town. Feeble
streetlights struggled to illuminate the features of passers-by,
whose friendly greetings floated towards us.
The soft veil of Night was thick as a burlap sack now and
filled with crumbling charcoal. The street-lamps sputtered then
took their light away, leaving the air shrouded in the blackest
shade of black. I could not see my own hand: my skin had so fused
with the sable night. I could not see my uncle standing a few
inches from me, but somehow he knew the name of a silhouette
making its way home. "That's Tonton Chauvette," he said. No
matter how long or dark the night, he knew who was passing by --
by the shuffle of the feet, the rustle of the clothes, the sway
of the shadow. "In Haiti," my uncle said, "a man must learn to
see in the dark."
Night sounds surrounded the thicket around the porch. The
long leaves of the coconut tree crackled in the breeze. Lonely
laughter floated from nearby porches. An infant's cry pierced the
spongy fabric of the tropical night. Above us all, the infinite
black sky was dappled with shimmering stars.
I had not seen a moon so full in many years, or a night so
supreme that it looked as if the dawn might never come. It was
difficult to imagine that all the stars would find another night
somewhere when morning came, but they did. Even in Haiti, Night
cannot last forever. However unwilling a star is to relinquish
the sky to the sun, it must surrender to each new day.
Katia Ulysse was born in Haiti. She grew up in the U. S., where
she lives and writes. Her work recently appeared in "The
Butterfly's Way," an anthology of Haitian voices edited by
Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat. A collection of Ms.
Ulysse's short stories will be published in 2002.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.