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Poetry and Medicine
August 4, 2010

PTSD in Haiti

JAMA. 2010;304(5):503. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.991

I hear the drums in the night
as the people cry out Souplez, ede mwe! Ede mwe! Ede mwe!
Where is the Good God, they wail, as a woman throws a Bible
into one of the many fires in Port-au-Prince.
The people in Leogane flee to the mountains for a night,
hoping a tsunami won't wash away what's left,
knowing that beyond mountains are more mountains.
The land is full of despair.
The rubble covers the earth,
as the waters cover the sea
and my team
with another night's cold sweat.
Papa Legba, guardian of the crossroads,
scatters our minds into four directions:
We are stranded in our nightmares to the north
We look for rum and tobacco to the south
To the east we tie a red string to bargain with the spirits
While in the west our senses are enhanced by fear.
And now we beg Baron Samedi, lord of the grave,
guide us to the afterlife,
so that we might find some peace.

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