It is beautiful as it is sad. What is this light? What is this smoke? Who is this girl and who is this child and who is it who waits behind them? It is light from the open space of the treacherous ravine the shanty overhangs. Jeff said when the rains come the gorge becomes a torrent. He said, “It took a two persons, a house and a cow when the rain flowed in October.” It is the suffocating smoke of the charcoal fire. It is the absence of doors and windows except the old wood shutters that clamp out a bit of weather and lock in the darkness. The smoke is the last journey of the tree into the gas of the atmosphere. It is the final flash of the long journey of deforestation. This is one of millions of final rites burning across the country this morning. Everything it takes to make this moment magical is so much devastation. The girl in silhouette is Darlene. She is holding a young boy named Kevin. Why Kevin is in Darlene’s arms is because two years ago this very same day he became homeless when the Haiti earthquake separated him from his parents. “We found him walking in the streets,” Jeff said. “My sister Sabine and I took him in because he had no place and no one. He calls me Papa and my sister Sabine Momma.” Darlene helps too.
Behind them is the mother, Marianne. She no longer can dress herself so her husband Phillipe pulls on her socks. She sits by the light of the door and the smoke covers her like an incense. It is beautiful as it is sad. But all the details of our lives are Tarot cards such as this telling facts we see but never see. What is this light? What is this smoke? Who is this girl and who is this boy she is holding? I might just as well ask, who is my mother? Where did she come from? What is the house I live inside? Where was this wood harvested? What hands crafted these materials and from what ground were they plucked?