February 11, 2018


I dreamt in chunks last night,
my exhausted body unable to move
each limb sawed off like a sad branch
laid in a pile of lifeless lumber.

My mind, however, was awake
and wild in dreams of wonder:
Does wood remember being a tree?
Paper of wood?
Books of memories before they were stories?

The dreams were intense and world blending:
Jason was there and we were in a fancy restaurant,
me agog over some nice wine and the cut
of an helium tomato, yellow in this case,
and he asking for his fifth glass of water.
It is known in our circles that he is seldom
impressed or aware of the subtilise of tomato flavours.
In my dream I wonder
if his disdain for fine dining
is still the case,
seeing that we haven’t eaten
in a restaurant together,
fancy or not,
in years.

In my other dream, my students are there.
We are in Italy and I have patched them together
as a quilt I hope will take.
I am hosting a parent event in a piazza.
The sun is bright and everyone is enjoying
tomatoes and wine.
The blanket of kids I have woven have found skateboards
and are doing alie-s and jumps on the ancient cobbled streets
wearing hats and sunglasses.
Looking cool and confident
as kids their age should be.
The parents are getting drunk and singing each other love songs.

I am a bridge that spans many worlds,
keeping it all together, unsure of the exact location of the center.
I am a web of spans held together by fragile wire.
The distances may vary,
but these connections are taut and made of steel.

I must confess I am awake now, at least I think I am.
Ready to face the conscious part of my consciousness.
I envision the day lived in chunks as well.
I am in my room at Daraja,
The pre-dawn sounds of howling dogs, chirping birds, and rooster crows
are a symphony unconducted music.

The room is dark, expect for the tunnel of
light cast from my laptop.
Outside the window,
the inky sky is fading into shades
of lavender like bruised human skin.

It is six am and I am sure I will not sleep more tonight.
My limbs have awoken and the pile of wood
has been reconstructed into a moving tree.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow are a jumbled mess.
Film scattered on the floor
waiting to be rewound and led through
a projector.

On the bus ride, Sarah and I talked about a persons
tolerance for discomfort
and the privilege of choice
that leads to freedom.

We watched as an old woman, perhaps fifty years old
back hunched over till her chin touched her knees,
carried a pile of soon to be fire wood, trudging
along the side of the highway.

This display of injustice and discomfort
is not new to me, but I wondered how many
of the kids behind me on the bus had ever
considered this woman and her place in the world.

How many of our kids and had wanted to
stop the bus and ask the woman if they could carry the wood
for a while, and help her stretch her back with the latest yoga moves
and perhaps offer her a glass of wine
and a yellow heirloom tomato covered in chunks of Himalayan sea salt
and maybe offer her a ride in an air conditioned car,
perhaps a Porsche SUV, to a warm safe bed with goose down pillows
and sheets with a thread count that screamed luxury.

How many of our kids considered
going back in time when this woman was twelve years old
and finding ways to get her into a classroom, with a book in her hand
and a teacher guiding her choices and removing her from a husband or even father
telling her what to do,
giving her sanitary pads and offering her a menu of choices
that are often only reserved for the educated and the privileged like us?

I wondered if any of our kids made the connection
between the girls they would meet in a few hours and the woman on the road.
Between their own privilege and the battle against poverty.
Between the world of dreams and reality.
Between the dark night and the dawn.
Between problems and solutions.

The day is about to begin.
I’m a first draft poem of mixed metaphors
unbound like an old film on the floor.
I was awoken in the night
by the urgency of this creation.

I wonder what I’ll do with it next.

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