Madam Brigitte: A Portrait

I saw you last night as I lay on my straw mat beneath the stars, watching shadows of lives lived long ago slip past mango trees in the dark. I drifted off and there you were waiting for me around the corner and down the street about three blocks beyond my dreams. Damn girl, you were devastatingly beautiful in a wicked sort of way all dressed in black (although lilac is your signature color) dripping in diamonds that sparkled like so much light dancing on the surface of the sea. Your skin was caramel colored by miscegenation; something you hated with the deepest of all hatreds about the very roots of your being. You held equal disdain for your black daddy and your lily-white mother moon.

And so, there you stood in front of me, all arrogant, haughty, powerful and tall, demanding respect like some kind of  big time Vodou Queen, talking with your thoughts rather than your words. We traveled to a city where hundreds upon hundreds of peristyles stretched out across rolling hills as far as the eye could see. You told me to choose any one of them I want for my home as drumbeats filled the air with their talking reverberations of a thousand ancient voices. I see that you are good. I see that you are evil. I see that you will quickly take care of my enemies. I see that you make sure that great honor is bestowed upon me. It will only cost me diamonds. It will only cost me my soul. I see.



About Patti Harris

Patti Harris is an anthropologist who teaches at Miami Dade College where she is the chairperson of the Department of Social Sciences. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she has done extensive fieldwork in Haiti and will soon publish an ethno-biographical study based on her research.


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