For the last week or so I’ve been reading, “Breath, Eyes, Memory” — a Haitan tale of women and their relationships with their daughters. Of course, with the tragedy unfolding in Port au Prince, it’s been a difficult read. I don’t know that anyone handles this sort of mass tragedy well, but I feel itchy. I wish more than anything I had some sort of skill that would make me useful in such situations. I wish I was there.
And then, I don’t. I’m not sure I could handle seeing the death. I nearly fell off the treadmill yesterday when they showed footage of a little boy being rescued from the wreckage. His arms outstretched, he was handed overhead by rescuers down a mountain of broken concrete. I was in tears.
This book is an Oprah selection; they usually make me far too introspective and sad. This book didn’t send in the dark clouds. Instead, it told a strange, interesting tale from a cultural perspective I was hungry to learn from. It is an easy read and I did enjoy it.
My favorite excerpt comes from the very last page:
“There is always a place where women live near trees that, blowing in the wind, sound like music. These women tell stories to their children both to frighten and delight them. These women, they are fluttering lanterns on the hills, the fireflies in the night, the faces that loom over you and recreate the same unspeakable acts that they themselves lived through. There is always a place where nightmares are passed on through generations like heirlooms. Where women like cardinal birds return to look at their own faces in stagnant bodies of water.
“I come from a place where breath, eyes, and memory are one, a place from which you carry your past like the hair on your head. Where women return to their children as butterflies or as tars in the eyes of the statues that their daughters pray to. My mother was as brave as starts at dawn.”
3 out of 5 bananas