a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
She walks among the living for miles,
days, breaks down,
makes her way to a clinic in Christianville,
her pain, swelling,too much to bear.
Along dirt roads, past mass graves
and piles of debris,past heads bowed
in prayer, bodies bent over
lifting the dead,
past goats rummaging through plastic bags
and emptied bottles,
rotted foodand waste,
she dreams her son in her arms,
the warmth of him,
speaks as though he can take in, latch on
to every word.
In this country, the ocean is a mirror,
divides the worldof the living
from the world of the dead.
Spirits linger, take part in the communion
but nothing is left here for them now,
nowhere to go.
She once believed it had been a blessing
that no one really dies in Haiti,
since it had always been such a violent,
but perhaps now to depart, to fall
through the sacred pooland keep falling
might be the only way to find peace.
The doctor is American, on a mission trip
with Forward Edge,
there in hope of helpingand healing himself.
That he is at the clinic when she arrives
is fate:sò, destine
that will twistand swerve,
bend and break, turn
and translateinto their story.
a dense sample—and he smuggles it back
to the States in an empty bottle,
wraps it in a sock, buries it in his suitcase.
There is no other way to know,
though he has suspicions,
sends it off to a lab in his city
to be stained, magnified,
examined between glass slides
beneath a microscope.
The word pathology
derives from the Greek
for the study of pain and suffering.
This desire to help others
is a kind of knowledge—
translational here, it moves
between the work of research
and the practice of medicine.
Clinical nature and site noted:
Left posterior mandible.
Eleven slides: cell nuclei stained
blue, cytoplasmic parts pink.
The body, rendered in contrast,
abstract art. Peripheral cells
cuboid to columnar, tumor islands
depicting mitotic figures
and sequestrum (dead bone).
for the two translators who help him to communicate
in French and Creole. Everything he makes is fresh,
like in her country, from the earth, unspoiled, yielding.
With a long knife, he slices, sweeps aside nine heads
of red snapper, inserts the steel tip of the blade
between skin and flesh, on the dorsal side of the body,
separates soft fillet from the small bones of spine.
Pink and gray guts left splayed on wooden planks,
the stink of entrails as he drags his finger end to end.
On another countertop, he cuts inch-long stems
from black mushrooms, flips their caps into a cast-iron pot
on the stove, water rolling to a boil. The kitchen, larger
than the tent she left behind, smells like her homeland.
Minced shallot and garlic, bay leaves, sprigs of parsley
and thyme, cloves ground with mortar and pestle,
chile pepper, a trace of citrus in the air. White rice
simmers in water darkened by mushrooms, turns black.
Next, his hands push a smaller knife through to the stone
of mango, again and again, pieces tumbling into a clay bowl,
sticky with juice, strings of pulp clinging to the rim,
to the spaces in between his fingers. His salsa recipe
calls for dicing, for several jalapenos finely chopped.
Finally, as he shreds the spooled leaves of coriander,
they all gather around the island, raise their glasses
in a toast to tomorrow, demen, and to no pain, san doulè.
Kristina Moriconi is a poet, essayist, and visual artist whose work has appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines including Sonora Review, Brevity, Cobalt Review, Lumina, as well as many others. She is the winner of Terrain.org’s 11th Annual Nonfiction Contest, her winning essay forthcoming in early 2021. Moriconi’s work has been included in the anthology Flash Nonfiction Food (Woodhall Press 2020), and her lyric narrative In the Cloakroom of Proper Musings was published by Atmosphere Press in August 2020.