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181 Plaster September–October 2012 Jenison and Jerry hang out at Be Like Brit all the time now. They show up around ten in the morning; I tell the gate guard to keep them outside until lunch, but they usually manage to finagle their way in by eleven. Once on site, they make drawings and play with the water bubbler in the construction shanty while I try to do my own work. At noon we all eat; I pay Gama to make sure they each get at least one meal a day. Jerry’s capacity is enormous ; the boy inhales his huge plate of food and finishes up my leftovers as well. One day they raid the snack table before lunch when I’m not paying attention. Later, they cannot finish their meal. Their eyes glaze in confusion at the food that will not fit in their stomachs. Having more than they need, perhaps for the first time, is unsettling. After lunch the three of us usually go to a quiet place and practice Creole. They howl at my pronunciation. They contort their mouths and exaggerate the guttural sounds they want me to mimic, and then laugh at the sounds I actually make. Jenison sings and I dance; I sing and he dances. He’s much better than me; his bones turn into fluid curves. Jerry refuses to dance but is a great singer. Turns out we all know “We Are the World.” It’s corny but fitting. After our lunch break, we always walk down to MoHI to see the progress of the work. They latch their arms around my waist. Jenison carries my camera. He snaps random images of the road, and the sky and snapshots of me. Everyone on the hill stares at us. Wizened Haitian faces scowl at such undeserving youth landing this plumb connection: meals and crayons and dancing, even 182 Architecture by Moonlight rumors that I will send them to school. I’m uncomfortable with this display of favoritism, but it is only human nature that Jenison flaunts his elevated station; just last month these same people denigrated him as a street orphan. Lex and Renee are in the States on their annual fund-raising swing. Huguener is overseeing the MoHI work, removing forms and plastering the classroom ceilings. I visit daily, but nothing requires much supervision. One afternoon, Huguener informs me that he’s found a school in town that will accept Jenison and Jerry for the fall. Huguener, and I are scheduled to visit the director and teachers on Friday. For the first time I believe they understand the game plan. They declare that they want to go to school. They shout I love you! at an embarrassing volume. They even differentiate between Mwen remen , the pedestrian Creole that covers the full gamut of affection, and Je t’aime, the French, with its deeper meaning. We usually finish our work at MoHI by 3:00 p.m., including time to splash at the water spigot, run up and over the school’s stair, and hop over the picnic tables. Time for me to return to BLB. I give them a hug and they scramble across Route 2. I trudge back up the hill, content in the anticipation that I will see them again the next day. One of their favorite pastimes in the construction shanty is to draw. Jerry is Joan Miro, fantastic forms all jumbled on the same plane. Jenison is more Grant Wood, archetypical shapes with precise draftsmanship. One morning, Jenison writes BLB in bold letters across the top of his universal house. I figure he knows the alphabet, so I ask him to sign his work. His quizzical look tells me I’ve assumed too much; he does not know how to write. Jerry comes to his aid and directs his brother letter by letter. D-I-E-UN -I-S-O-N. “What is that?” I ask. “That’s his name, Dieunison,” Jerry replies. I stare at the word. No matter how deep I get here, I will never know Haiti, where accepted truths turn to illusion in an instant. I have known this boy more than two years, grown attached to him, yet I never even knew his actual name. Dieunison. Son of God. If this rascal is the son of god, the world is in for one heck of a second coming. 183 Plaster One afternoon after leaving the boys, as I ascend the road back...


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MARC Record
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