Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh...how the wind blows

It was placed in your hands. Not when or how you wanted it. But it was there. We coded meanings with our tongues. Carried laughter in our bellies. I kissed the ink scars of your shoulder blade. Call like the moon resting so lovely over you. We readied ourselves for private communion on that holy day.  With sacred wash and nectar I produced an offering –-my flesh.

It was there and all for your taking.  Feeble hearts but fumble and throw pearls mistaken for trash to the ground.  Trash blows in the wind.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saturn has left the building

Goodbye, Saturn!!! I am free. Finally free. I walk closer to the shore with sand packed between my toes. The wind on my back. The sun against my breasts. Water runs around and through me--a cleansing for my next transition. Deliverance.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The opening

yes, you
reach inside of me
pull tendons from muscle
suck marrow from bone
chasten my flesh
arrest my mind

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The breaking

I am outgrowing her. Fast and furious. Trying to slow down. She is in the distance.

I grew tired of holding her up to the light. My arms gave way. She is tumbling down to earth. My heart blown open again.

I imagine her lying there bruised and bloodied. Everything in me begs to go to her. Pick her up from the floor of the earth and stroke her scalp.

But descent to earth means forfeiture of flight. The slow and bitter atrophy of full grown wings.

I risk capture. Engulfed by the trickery of the ordinary. The veil of comfort. The curse of the unfulfilled.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

I live on the water. For two straight days, helicopters have circled outside my window searching for the bodies of two tourists who disappeared in the tragic ride the ducks boat accident. The noise from the propellers is deafening. It is a constant reminder of life lost. A reminder that there are two sets of parents on planes to America to retrieve remains. They found the girl this morning.

My sensitivity is heightened by the fact that I just returned from a trip abroad. To think, to imagine, that something so tragic could of happened. What do I do I with this feeling?

I’ve let fear creep back into my life. It has stolen my sense of wonder and my ability to live without hesitation. We always think we have so much time to get things right. But you and I both know there is no such thing as time.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm back

How do I describe the sounds, the sights, of such a far off land? My trip, literally to the other end of the world, was magical and intoxicating. It was an epiphany, a culture shock, a fascination--a twisted cultural musing.

I stayed in a villa in a small town called Ubud. Ubud is known as the cultural oasis of Bali; the ride from the airport, or a quick stroll through the center of town reveals a mass of batik paintings and hand made woodcarvings. Ubud and its surrounding areas are also home of the beautiful rice paddies.  I lived among them. Every morning I woke up to see workers tilling the land, bending to the morning sun.

Entering the grounds of the main villa was like entering the Garden of Eden. The villa complex sat perched on the Ayung River. Some days I sat by the riverbank, listening to the sound of rushing water as I read. In the evening, I watched children playing in the river and women washing clothes of the day.

I spent my days outside of the villa at various temples and attractions. On my third day, I took an arranged 2-hour bike ride through several villages.  As our group rode from one village to another, little children dashed outside to catch the foreigners going by.

On our bike ride we saw workers in the field.  At one stop were shown how they painstakingly separate rice from the shaft. The process is incredibly backbreaking in the scorching sun. And the work is not done not for mass production, but the rice is used to feed families and give to the gods as offerings. After workers (mothers and fathers) finish cultivating the rice, they lay it out in front of their houses to dry--an honest day’s work.

I visited the bustling Ubud market and bargained for Balinese wares.  For a novice, the system of bargaining can be somewhat irritating. I forced myself to remember that sellers were bargaining for a days work, and I, for petty goods I would have likely paid three times as much for at home.

And how to describe the randomness of experiences. On the way to attractions, I often tripped into a procession, a ceremony, or everyday people preparing for mass cremation. And there were offerings everywhere I looked—in cars, on the ground, and at store entrances.

Not surprisingly, the unsettling part of my trip involved my interactions with the expat community and other tourists. One morning, the owner of the villa came to my table during breakfast and offered small talk. He was obnoxious—everything I hate about the expat community. He introduced the woman at his table as “his Indonesian girlfriend,” and proceeded to regal me with stories of his experiences with Mike Jagger, Donna Summers and Julia Roberts--utter rubbish.  He then, rather casually, explained his practice of buying goods in his native Australia, and selling them for ridiculous prices.

I have to admit that I’ve never felt more American, more other, than in Indonesia. I was aware that others were always at my service. I couldn’t help but feeling like I was somehow being tricked. So much of what I saw, I am quite sure, was deception. An act. You show me the Asia I’ve imagined—the dances, the masks, and stone carvings, and I, the tourist, the foreigner, will readily consume. 

And there was a slight undercurrent of resentment bubbling beneath the surface. I sensed it in the tone of the bemo driver and the bike tour director. We, the tourists, took their land.  Yes, it is a whole complicated mess of things. The appreciation of a beautiful land, yet the eerie understanding between you, and the people of that place, that your presence will one day destroy that land.

Will I ever go back? Maybe. But with eyes wide open. I know for sure I did not experience Elizabeth Gilbert’s Bali.