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1 Demolition January 12, 2010 Renee Edme works alone in a windowless room at Mission of Hope in Grand Goave, Haiti. She hears a truck outside. It’s unusual to hear traffic noise within the concrete building that’s both Mission of Hope’s office and her family’s home, even though it sits tight to Rue St. Jerome, a main street that connects National Route 2 to the Bay of Gonave. Her mind flicks back to the wayward jeep that rammed into the corner of their house a few years ago. Trucks often drive too fast along Route 2, though they ought to slow down along the market. But it would be hard for one to gather enough speed on St. Jerome to make such a ruckus. The noise distracts her from the report she’s writing about Mission of Hope’s evangelical activities. She tries to rationalize it away. The jeep struck at night, and she’s in the back of the building, next to the courtyard where Marieve is preparing dinner. The truck can’t harm her. But it keeps coming. It grows louder. It pierces her ears. She grips the edge of her desk. The lights go out. Power is so unreliable in Haiti. She needs to switch over to the generator. But the racket increases. It defies geographic logic. The truck is coming right for her. For a few seconds, a lifetime of seconds, she cannot move. She sits in the dark, unable to reach the generator, unable to counter what God has ordained, resigned to the truck crashing through the wall, crushing her. The din reaches a grueling decibel. Renee jumps from her chair, stumbles to the door and down the narrow passage to the courtyard. The menace is upon her, pounding her eardrums. 2 Architecture by Moonlight A roaring wave claps her from behind. Renee is a big woman, not tall but stout, with long brown hair pulled in a taut line down her back and a mouth prone to descend at the corners. She is a creature close to the ground. She weaves. Her legs give out, but so does the earth itself. The courtyard rumbles and shakes, it rumbles and shakes. Her legs are unable to support her. Gravity is confused. The ground pushes and slides when it ought to pull. She doesn’t fall; she jellies in place. She has no bearings, no reference plane from which to measure the world. The noise dissipates, it echoes past, a freight train speeding to a distant terminal. The ground settles . Gravity regains the upper hand. Renee goes slack; her body slumps against the doorway. The moment her back rests against the hard frame Renee jolts it back to attention. Where’s AJ? Alexis? Lex? She calls for her children , her husband, but hers is just one more voice in the agonized chorus that rises from the rumbling. She steps out of the doorway; it doesn’t feel safe. She scans the courtyard. Marieve stands not more than twenty feet away, wailing. The earth turns solid once again. For a moment Renee wonders if perhaps she dreamed, but the screams rising all around confirm grim reality. Renee and Marieve walk toward Route 2. Mission of Hope’s church and school are at the edge of town; people will congregate there. Instinct guides them, as nothing is recognizable. Renee has lived in Grand Goave for ten years, but her town has turned into a foreign landscape. Buildings are racked, some fallen. They pick their way through an obstacle course of vehicles, toppled concrete, and intimate belongings. Others pick their way through the chaos, seeking their community of refuge. By the time Marieve and Renee reach Route 2, a mob has formed along Grand Goave’s umbilical cord to the world. The sound starts up again. The wind rises from the east, propelling the noise. This time Renee knows it’s not a truck. She stands on the road’s white line, far from anything that might fall, yet packed tight to others. The noise deafens. The crowd braces against each other. The earth gives way beneath them. It’s more difficult to bear the second time, knowing what’s coming, knowing that time will stop as waves ripple through her town, her loved ones, her bones. The tremor passes, undulating west toward Petit Goave. Roofs and walls that precariously survived the first tremor topple to the ground. The 3 Demolition crowd wails in the...


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MARC Record
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