Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reading "The Blue Sweater," Writing "The White Shmate שמאַטע*"

Work in progress.

Reading, excoriating Jacqueline Novogratz' "The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World."

Will there be interest, I wonder, in a sequel, "The White Schmate שמאַטע:  Blood from Stones and Sharing the Pie in Haiti"? 

For those of you - Haitians and friends of Haiti not familiar with Yiddish - that is, for Haitians not from Brooklyn nor the greater metropolitan New York area, the word "שמאַטע  - shmate"  means "rag." 

There  are other differences between Jacqueline's book and mine.  Her's is published.  Mine's not written.  Her's sells, people buy it, libraries stock it.  On the other hand, if you are reading this, well, it’s a start.

Ah, so then. There is nothing new under the sun...perhaps.

I did not find a long-not-lost-but-donated sweater.  Instead, in Haiti I found children in bits of remnants and rags.  I found women washing bits of remnants and rags.
 I found children sporting torn baggy pants, crotch-less legging pants, girls in garish skirts over pants, and kids with no pants. 

Do I say I found bits and pieces of a heart, that heart, mine, that I did not recognize? yes, beating, yes throbbing, yes here, alive.  Now,

Neighbors. Ah, now, here they come – carrying 10 gallons of water on their heads, wearing logo’ed T-shirts that shout out It’s Community Day at Stanford... 

...and look, there’s one, Dance or Die, and another, The Negro Baseball League, now climbs up the Leukemia Foundation, and next a pink be-ribboned on demands Find a Cure!

Cotton shirts, cotton knits, juxtaposed with sturdy, lean, rippled, sinewy arms, chests, torsos, legs of runners, athletes, marathoners, then bare feet, the feet with thick soles that have no need for shoes, have never known shoes, invincible feet that fly over scorched rock and bramble, skip over glass and machetes and climb, and climb,  and speed higher and faster and faster than I  can.

No missing sweaters

Down outside of Darbonne, by the izin sik,  old sugar factory, a woman straddles cement at a pump, draws water into a bucket, turns.  I read:  Neiman Marcus.

No missing sweaters, no donated sweater with my name on it.  Instead, in Haiti, I found Dieula, the girl next door , Dieula and her sisters.  Dieula, one of the 6 girls next door – on the mountain of Mon Bouton, 4000 feet or so above the plain of Leogane.

I find her, she finds me, I find me.

Here she is, in her white shmate, her crowning glory of reddish hair – the kwashiorkor tint – nestled next to someone’s dropped blade of a machete.  

The white shmate gets washed and she has a spare, a faded green stretchy thing that she’ll pull down over her knees when she crouches in my doorway round about 6 a.m.  

Cold.  It's mountains here.

Dieula here.  Always waiting there. Always astonishing.  
Always striking the un-posed pose. 

Dieula always.

Always Dieula.


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