krik? krak!


I sat under the palm fronds, safely ensconced in the folds of Manzèlore’s wide skirt that smelled of  ti-baume, of fey kowosol and other wild herbs;  only a sliver of moon illuminated the sky. Corn crackled as it grilled on an open fire and Manzèlore, the kindest, most generous soul I have ever known,  who  now lives in the land of truth — I call her name without diverting her from the path of the dead —  Manzèlore would say Pitit mwen (although I always knew I was her special child, she called flowers and plants, all animals and every child hers as she spoke to them gently, watering the first, caressing the others, braiding my wild hair and feeding us all) Pitit mwen, she would repeat as she removed the kernels from the corncob, shaking off the heat as she made them dance in her palm, and she would call out Krik! and eagerly, I would respond without a beat Krak! and she would tell me stories of angels with gossamer wings and of Tezin, master of the waters; of the peasant who sought to marry her only son with a princess, of the magical orange tree, of female werewolves who removed their skins at night to fly in the countryside. She would change her voice for each character and she would sing and I carry her voice inside me, I carry it in my heart as I sing lost fragments of songs that come to me randomly at night : ti pye zoranj pouse pouse (grow little orange tree) …. or manman o manman men koulèv la ape manje’m (mother o mother the snake is eating me) or ensel ensel miyon miyon, ensel badyo’m nan ( my one, my only precious child)…

mimi fiaf 11So I was ecstatic when the FI:AF (French Institute Alliance Française) through Professor Etienne Télémaque, contacted me for a Krik?Krak! event during their World Nomad series celebrating Haiti. It gave me the opportunity to say Manzèlore’s name –an honor I never refuse — to engage in a  Tim Tim? Bwa Chèch! Nou bwè pwa? session of Haitian riddles with the audience; to tell the love story of Tezin, to say a Frankétienne poem to Frankétienne himself — a blessing I will long remember — along with poems of Syto Cavé, James Noël and of Tiga;

franketienne et mimi

to sing with Martina Bruno and Buyu Ambroise and to recreate briefly in the Skyroom Theater of the FIAF, one of the evenings I hope all those present will carry — as I do — in their hearts.  Click here for photos of the event and until I see you again, I end my story the way Manzèlore would end all her stories: e yo banm youn ti kout pye ki fè’m ateri isit la….(I was gently kicked until i reached these parts)

Michèle Voltaire Marcelin

Artwork credit: Edwidge Danticat Krik? Krac! book cover

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3 Responses to “krik? krak!”

  1. […] Maryse C. Elysée on krik? krak! […]

  2. The goose bumps (happy ones) did not stop crawling through my skin as I read this recount of childhood memories so dear to my heart. I am also grateful for this hommage to your Manzèlore and all the other manzèlores of our lives. Now, that we have grown in age and experience (and hopefully in wisdom), we can truly appreciate the sacrifices of those substitute mothers of our early years. Michele, you did it again, that is reaching into our heart to arouse some buried feelings. You’ve found a way to become part of our consciousness and for that we thank you.

  3. Elie Saint-Jean says:

    This piece brings me fond memories of my chidhood. It reminds me, when l’angelus tombe. We sat in front of granme. She would tell us those stories the way you describe. They were always the same. Tezin, Marie-Louise, Ti pie zorange, different encounters of Bouki ak Malice, and many other always ended by: “konsa yo ban’m yon ti kout pie mwen tombe la mwen bay ti manti sa”
    Unfortunately this part of the Haitian culture is disappearing slowly if not completely.

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