From Pierre Clitandre, “Cathedral of the August Heat: A Novel of Haiti”

From Pierre Clitandre, “Cathedral of the August Heat: A Novel of Haiti” June 12, 2015

Then the ragged crowd pressed forward, in spite of the threat of the guns. They were ordered back. The tide of men came forward, silently, heavily, big hands by their knees. The gun shots rang out again. The men kept on coming. Heavily. Stepping over bodies soaked in blood. A third time the guns fired. At that moment out of the crowd, amid the dead bodies of men, pregnant women, the dust, blood, sun and gunfire, came the beautiful long-haired brown girl, dazzling in her white dress. With arms wide open and begging for mercy, she knelt before the big muddy boots of the man shouting orders. Her hair fell down in the dust beside the thick boot soles and she begged the man to stop the shooting. The martyred crowd, at the sight of the beautiful brown girl all in white, thought that the Virgin Mary had miraculously appeared and fell back with the guns still trained on them.

The shooting stopped.

The man who gave orders pulled back the head of the young girl, unable to understand her magic, stronger than guns, for turning a people back. With his two legs firmly astride, the man now grew disturbed, looking into the eyes of the beautiful brown girl who knelt before his huge form. He had never seen a being of such beauty. In the midst of this orgy of blood, groans, blue sunlight, gunpowder and dust, the young girl’s shining eyes submerged cruel reality and his crime in a dream of stars beyond time. The man standing, legs astride, stared fixedly at the tearful eyes, the outstretched arms, the trailing hair, the faint contour of breasts and the whiteness of her dress.

Monumentally anchored in his two boots, with the pleading girl before him like a wounded dove, the man felt himself transforming into a cathedral.

–tr. Bridget Jones. This Genet-like scene ends well for basically nobody….


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