- Heaven Is a Place for You
God has left us to the loa.Our stomachs ache for breadfruit.Rain sloshes shit into our pallets.Manman's thin blood is virus bittered.
I am deserted in the city of princeswhere I care for the patron's bebe.While his wife sleeps, he loves mewith his fingers—soon his fist.
I plead for god to help me and Manman,her skin withering on the bone.On the naked hillside, the lesser spiritsswig rum. All night, I hear them laughing.
When Asaka falls drunk, the earth shudders.Palm trees wrench; corrugated metal plummetsfrom the timbers. Shanties krik krak,but the ears are already buried. [End Page 53]
Beneath collapsed floors,I hunch in an upturned tub.Papa Ghede knows I am hidingin the rubble. As he swings his machete,I breathe dust and blood.He calls, but I don't answer.He might tell god that I am still alive.
The coffin is where god finds me.Someone has remembered to comb my hair.I listen for Manman in the unfamiliar voicesthat sing me to heaven: Syel la se yòn plas pou ou!I clench my fists in prayer. [End Page 54]
Desiree Cooper is a journalist, author, blogger, and former co-host of American Public Media's Weekend America. A 2002 Pulitzer Prize nominee for her column in the Detroit Free Press, Cooper graduated from the University of Maryland with degrees in journalism and economics and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. Her writing has been published in such journals and anthologies as Simply Haiku, Torch, Intimate Landscape, Best African American Fiction 2010, Detroit Noir, Tidal Basin Review, and Tiferet. A founding board member of Cave Canem, she was born in Japan to a military family, and she now makes her home in metro Detroit.