One evening on Ille-a-vache off the south coast of Haiti we hiked to a beach on the west end of the island with a plan to photograph the sunset. It was a welcome silence after so much fighting. The battles back in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The thieving Christian ministers propped up by foolish American church congregations. The oppression of anger and need. The egos and the questionable loyalties. The long boat journey and the trials of wading through more poverty and oppression.
Walking out onto the hot sand and into the warm sea I had an urge to dive in and swim away. I photographed the emotion instead. I walked in a parable of myself and painted a picture of the mood of my spirit.
W.H. Auden said, “There must always be two kinds of art: escape-art, for man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep, and parable-art, that art which shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love.”
The tide raced in. The sun ran to the horizon. I shot directly into the light and stopped way down so I could capture the fierce contrast of blinding light and the meteor dark foundation of land. I wanted the photo to do for me what music does. I wanted to feel the photograph. I wanted to create something someone else can feel. The wave is a wall and it broke over me and I want it to break over someone else.
And so I bring it back and look at it and I feel it and thank God for the escapes to seas as much as I thank God for the harder places that shape me. I cannot live here in this tidal region anymore than I can live among the thieves. I must migrate between the places like the nomads who follow their sheep and the pastures. May God have mercy on us who must travel so that we come again to refreshing waters and yet go again to the poor, pathetic cities. In both we find escape and in both we tell a parable.
The tragic sea is not so tragic and is tragic. It is a shore for respite or for some an escape. For others it is the boundary of a prison island they have no means by which to escape.