Poetry by Charles Joseph

Losing My Immunity

I miss Haiti.
I miss Haiti like a corpse miss its soul

The longer they’re apart
The more the corpse loses all senses
All stability.
So it withers,
It dries.
It rejects itself. And the soul doesn’t know who.

The longer I’m away from my country
The more I lose my senses
Then my life.
So I wither,
My juice dries
The culture rejects me. The country doesn’t know who.

Whenever I go back
They ask “yoh watsap…mann”
Demand if I’m American. Force it upon me
enbyen, ou gentan ameriken, manno” “ou bliye Kreyol ou?” **

I get sick.
No. Really, I always get sick when I go back. My immune system has weakened

Foreign lands have a way of telling you
To relax your arms. Let your guards down. You’re safe.
There’s a better future for you, here.
They wrap their hands around your shoulders.
Walk into the sunset,
From your country,
That they’re burning, behind you.

This country. Ayiti.
Has an impenetrable immunity
Shakable, but impenetrable.
But you wouldn’t understand
You’re a foreigner.

The country loved me. Caressed me. Raised me.
Planted seeds in me.
While I, relocated overseas.
Deafened myself to its screams of my name
Then write songs about destiny
And where I’m supposed to be.

I fertilized and grew these seeds into fruits
To bring as an offering of gratitude.
“Mom, look what I made!”
Pitit mwen, poukisa w te kite m?”

*My child, why did you leave me?*

**well then, you’re already American, Charles? You forgot your Haitian Creole?

10 responses to “Losing My Immunity”

  1. That was an impactful poem and I liked how you used Haitian Creole in different parts as a tie to your culture.

    1. Thank you very much! I was hoping it made the poem more authentic

      1. Pa dekwa, Charles! You definitely succeeded in that regard with how powerful the poem was.

  2. People think if they speak their language or if they have suffered by staying with their people in the community, they are somehow better than others. It’s not true. What counts is what you hold inside.

    1. Exactly! You’re so right! What you hold inside—your love and dedication to the country—is what matters the most at the end of the day.

  3. This is a particularly powerful piece; love it.

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know!

  4. […] Read more about my displacement from Haiti here. […]

  5. […] Read my poem about moving to New York after growing up in Haiti here. […]

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