Document 07: L’événement

Non-Events I

Morning turns inside out. The engine
        is diseased, as it floats along
        approximate ice. High contrast
geometry of persons straightens out from
        meandering road. Desperate focus
never looks back. Progress makes possible
        a paralyzed attendant, set apart
        an end to himself (moral noise).

 —Frame: 1971–1990 (Sun & Moon, 1997), 13

Avenue Poupelard in the center of this devastated city pulses with life and reeks of death almost two weeks after the earthquake. Before what Haitians call “the event,” it was a chaotically bustling street of lottery kiosks and cybercafes, gated homes and shacks, churches and schools. Now, a coffin maker spends the day hammering wood as fast as he can get it, while the body of a 6-year-old boy decomposes in the ruins of a school. Hundreds of displaced residents squat in the junked cars of a mechanic’s lot as a lawyer, writing briefs, camps under the bougainvillea of her uninhabitable villa. A fiery pastor preaches outside the ruins of his church; street vendors hawk small plastic bags of water; an AIDS clinic reopens briefly each day for patients who survived the earthquake but ran out of essential pills. And, bound in muslin like a mummy, a cadaver lies beneath a sign that screams “S O S,” deposited there by neighbors as if to underscore their cry for help as they struggle to reconstitute some semblance of community and move forward.

—”On Street Tracing Haiti’s Pain, Survival Goes On,” New York Times, 24 January 2010

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