Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Musac, Haiti

Coconut avoided. I want to remember how the houses are built here, it seems more and more that I’ll be reappropriating Haiti for my stories. (Osborne is Haitian, Inch, Gaetan’s NY mural. God, I gotta get out more.) House walls here seem like cobwork, though I can’t place the stuff exactly, and reach only up to the gables, where rough, open beams let the breeze through. Furniture is as ornate and gaudily painted as fairy-tale furniture from Russian сказки. Clocks that bring in the hour with failing “Oh, Susannas” and logos for “siempre Coca Cola.”

The patios—“concrete biers” seems apt, even though I don’t know exactly what a bier is, maybe something nautical and funereal, I’ll have to look it up—are filled with clotheslines and waterpipes, spare boards, tiny patches of drying almonds. I know hardly any of the fruit here. Everything on the table is kept under plastic strainers to keep out the flies—avocados, plates of spaghetti, etc. The kids are singing now. I’ll see if I can pluck up the courage to look in on them. Everything has been “circumspect” to me lately, from the taste of an avocado to my own self. Lordy, I gotta learn Creole.

Oh, and what I least wanted to forget—the doorways are all hung with fluttering, diaphanous cloths instead of doors. And the walls, inside and out, are powdery with watercolours—stripes and birds and “Nous sommes des Bahá’ís.”

My dream last night was thick with erotic imagery. Stills on TV of a byzantine Paris folly. Hadn’t really occurred to me to like that kind of thing, but the woman was short-haired and hard-breasted and the entire stage was infused with sienna’d sweat, right to the tops of its Babylonian columns.

The best concrete here goes into the graves. Everyone has a tomb. On my first day here, several people told me about the father of the Triffon family, a huge figure in the Bahá’í community here, dead now for two (?) years. Seems like a kind of religious Walter, respected and leaving his mark. It had never occurred to me that travel-teachers could be anything be ephemeral, flitty.

[Views of a back yard]

[A domino game]


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