Another holiday, another rustling through my luggage of words to find poignant answers for the question “How is Honduras?”
I desire to do justice to the kaleidoscopic, sometimes dizzying experience in Honduras. I want to capture meaning beyond trite, gushing reviews and clipped headlines that are oblivious to the coexistence of conflict and joy, suffering and selflessness. But I’m a member of the long-winded species.
Funny enough, in my search for the right words, haikus enamor me. Poet and peacebuilding scholar John Paul Lederach composes haikus as a contemplative practice during work visits to places weary from war and loss. These are the places we are quick to write off, yet haikus remind us to “capture the wonder of the human experience in the simplest of terms. It combines the beginner’s mind—what we might call joy, with ancient wisdom—what we might call patience.” Lederach ends with the question, “How do you hold joy and patience, particularly when things fall apart and harm burrows in?”
I recently digitally stumbled across an online tool that generates haikus from a user-selected GPS coordinate and a database of words associated with that coordinate. Automation may be anathema to the attention that poetry encourages, but I resonated with the creator’s reflection: “It’s always fascinating to see how, with just a few hundreds of very basic building blocks, meaning emerges from chaos, the imagination unravels, narratives materialize.”
So I eagerly entered Honduras’ coordinates and awaited a modern revelation. Yet all that appeared was:
“There’s not much around.”
Yes, it’s a developing technology, but what a fitting capture of how infrequently places like Honduras or [enter inner cities, enter other feeble labels] dwell in our poetic imagination—offline or online.
So if there is one thing I will be sure to say about Honduras next time, it’s this: “There is so much around here, more hurt and more goodness than I understand.”
I offer a few beginner’s haikus for Honduras, if the automation gods will accept them:
i. for one hour on the morning bus (truths I never expected)
why i entrust my cells
to a teen: he dismounts with
grace, chaos on wheels
ii. cacerolazo (every day is for soup)
are we domestic
if we cook dissent at night?
liberate, bang pots?
iii. small satisfactions
peels, roller bladers’ audacity,
pools from tres leches
iv. after the seller’s high-pitched strain of “¡mínimos!” passes the neighborhood
what tune could we sing
to open powerful doors
to more than sweet news?
Comfort Sampong’s heart is sparked by fried plantains, tropical foliage and the stories of women thriving and creating a way out of no way. She graduated in 2018 with majors in economics and international development. Now she lives in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she works on English communications for the Association for a More Just Society, a Honduran non-profit fighting for justice and peace.