He told me that witches reside there,
invoking spirits with chickens and rats.
They break and burn.
They prepare potions
with rain water, mud, and few drops of blood.
Did the young man not know how many Haitians died--
how they couldn’t get their brooms to fly and
potions to banish the cadence in their tongues?
for wanting to work, for not meeting the ideal, for mispronouncing perejil.
Bodies of men, women, and children thrown into the Massacre River.
Sanguine water in the cups of the dictator and his soldiers.
The dictator gave instructions:
1. Carry a sprig of parsley.
2. Find dark-skinned person.
3. Show dark-skinned person the parsley.
4. Make dark-skinned person say the word in Spanish.
5. If dark-skinned person can’t pronounce it,
and then repeat seventy times seven.
The dictator washed his hands, powdered his face, and delivered his incantation, transforming those who had been slain into savages. He wrote his spell on two stone tablets.
It seems like moons ago when the brute on a horse troubled the waters, yet the young man recoiled in fear of going to the other side, and of them coming in.
Note: I wrote this poem after reading several articles about President Trump’s plans on prohibiting Haitian immigrants from applying for temporary agricultural and seasonal visas. I thought of the Parsley Massacre that took place in the Dominican Republic in 1937, as well as the first time I traveled to the Dominican Republic in the year 2000. I met a young man who warned me about going to Haiti. He told me that it is a cursed, filthy place with evil doers. It is unfortunate that today, Haitians still face such prejudice and unfair scrutiny.