The Garden

The gardens were found to be in quite close proximity as if by some great practical joke of nature. A flip of an interstellar coin, the star dust settling in such a manner as to make the two become mutual exclusive. A glance, a smile, a silly joke and it was not long before the butterflies were out, flittering out amongst the youthful, pretty flowers.

Their upbringing ensured that they were dedicated landscapists, architects, not of their own destiny, but of that and outlook of the other. The initial admiration for the pretty picket fences and neatly trimmed hedges soon gave way to criticism for the personal preferences of fertiliser, weeding methods and watering regimes. Where they could have recognised prejudicial damage, they chose to assert with strong conviction, until finally the fence was pulled down creating an illusion of unity.

The gardens came together, made one by a great circular surround. This provided the perfect opportunity for criticism and the pointing of the proverbial finger. A perverse freedom to change each carefully constructed flower bed so as to reduce it a barren patch of earth. With great depth of clarity and insight each form of gardening came to be greatly expounded upon without the hassle of a boundary fence in place.

The two most beautiful trees, mere saplings, were planted. In many ways this was expected to solve the variance of gardening opinions. These two saplings, as testimony to their own strength and possibly not the skill of the gardener, grew strong and began to thrive. Unfortunately their existence never did help the gardeners find a resolution where they were not prepared to look for it.

Thus the fences and open areas began to grow closed,until the two gardens became, once again, separate entities. Devoid of understanding and a willingness to see beauty within each other.

In the further most unexplored corner of the garden, an area can be found that is unspoilt and natural in all its beauty. Here there never had been the influence of the landscaper nor had a gardener laid it’s hoe. So rare are these little gems, in the same way that humanity appears bent on changing and destroying nature, so are the natural original landscapes of the garden indeed intensely rare. Those little pockets of purest and most intrinsic natural wonder, where the complete expression of the original earth form is held and conserved with sacred rigour.

It was here where she first saw him, the strangest sensation of exploring that which was never explored, observing with intrigue while simultaneously being intriguingly observed. An exploration of terrain both untouched and unspoilt. How spectacular that these two parts of their gardens could overlap. The calculated miscalculation of the mischievous surveyor.

A transcendence of time and space, where a day could seem like a year and a year could be but a day. How was it possible to live a lifetime without fully knowing themselves and then to find themselves and understand the truest, deepest and purest desires within the mediocrity of a few hours.

Indigenous land, overlaid, takes on its own construct. It becomes shapeless and without form. Transitioning from one to another, it resists storms and the most cataclysmic of wild fires. It persists and exists maintaining its space and formlessness. Ever absorbing and always forgiving, consistently patient regardless of the events outside of itself.

Today saw a fence being fixed on a close boundary. These are the type of poles that tends to get a little rickety if left alone and unattended for too long. The last pole was just being knocked into place when she walked up to the line and, reaching across, greeted the lonely stranger, mentioning that she has recently moved into the neighbourhood.

Her twinkling eyes sparkled across the fence while she stood on tippy toe peering over the low boundary fence. She pleasantly noted how lovely the garden was looking while the stranger mumbled some incoherence about not looking to closely.

Their schedules both busy, full of timetables and commitments, little shrubs and saplings to be tended, gates to mend, fences to be fixed, vegetable patches to be kept vibrant and lively. Occasionally they were able to steal little moments together, a few late nights, and even fewer early mornings. It was fascinating to explore the countryside together, to find those deeper darker hidden gems that take time, openness and honesty to fully explore and discover.

A great idea formed to build a joint fire pit on the boundary. It burned slowly with a depth and a warmth that sufficiently suited both sides of the fence. It was very warm and welcoming on a gloomy day and exceptionally attractive during those cold, frosty winter nights.

Solo visits to the fire pit, it’s singularly stoked, the warm and colourful flames burned ever so bright in the presence of each. One day they will arrive simultaneously at the pit, and together with an armful of wood they will sit together and enjoy the warmth of that lovely little hollow.

The Clay Pot

Light bouncing playfully across the perfect facade,

the vitreous outer layer gleams,

revealing neither fleck nor care,

beware the weakness starts within.

 

The gyuveche, so solid and robust,

feeds the family day after day,

year in year out.

Enduring temperature and abuse,

roughly washed, shoved back on the rack,

until called upon, 
when needed.

Beware the crack starts within.

 

The agitation creeps in slowly,

at first unobserved by neither.

The micro-fissures spread slowly from the heart,

impossible to observe from the outside,

the fracture forges the emotional abyss.

The chasm only visible within.

Negligently placed in a careless instant,

in an oven too hot,

shattered beyond hope,

the children go hungry tonight.

 

External aftermath, a reflection of the devastation within.

Two Boats Afloat

As life’s tsunamis sweep us from the strand,

We find ourselves struggling to stand.

Water and debris crashing down around us, upon us,

Some never come to the surface.

The dark depths of the ocean drag them down,

the cold currents of the sea,

suck them into eternity.

We that finally lift our heads,

above us, clouds and sky and watery threads.

We breath deep, thankful to be alive,

the taste of the air, survivors of the seismic dive.

To survive the sea you find a boat,

looking around you notice one afloat.

Barely remaining adrift, brimful of water,

as if to beckon you to the slaughter.

You drift around desperately seeking the shore,

relentlessly prodding the sea with your oar.

sometimes its visible, mostly its just a hallucination,

you continue despite the knowledge that its your imagination.

Look over the bow and you will see

more boats around, and one of those is me.

You are not alone my dear,

for despite the distance I still am near.

Fighting to keep my own vessel afloat,

I am not far from you in your little boat.

Together we turn, together we yearn,

together we will our bobbing boat,

towards the land we dare them to float.

Through uncertainty and pain, steadfast we will remain.

And one day, together, we will stand,

on that hard and stable strand.

A Storm in Sikasso

I move into consciousness, the cobwebs of sleep cling, 

desperately trying to drag me back into warm slumber. 

Leaves on the trees outside begin to rustle restlessly, 

a door deep inside the house slams closed, a branch taps lightly on the window announcing the inevitable arrival.

The stillness of the dark morning is broken by the surging wind,

The darkness of the still morning is shattered by a blaze of lightning.

The tension builds as the wind picks up, 

hot, silver flashes punctuate the darkness with regularity,

A thunderous roar reverberates through the very walls of the house, windows vibrating, curtains swaying. 

A distant rumble starts to build, 

At first it’s almost imagined, a plop against the pane, a splatter in the sand,

and then all too suddenly the distant rumble rolls in,

as the storm unleashes its soaking savagery. 

I walk onto the verandah, the cool air rushes to meet me,

the sky is ablaze, the atmosphere is electric, rain hammering down, thrashing all that it can reach. 

Trees straining, thunder deafening, wind gusting back and forth, reaching all that it can thrash. 

Slowly abating, a steadiness sets in, 

rain slowing down, wind dying off, a rhythm develops,

as if a truce between land and sky has been agreed.

Flashes of distancing lighting illuminate the turquoise dome of the minaret across the road, 

gently the sky starts to lighten as dawn begins to ease over the city.

A rooster hastens to welcome the lightening sky, as if caught unawares.

The gentle rhythm resonates all around, a soulful melody creating calm and peace.

The earth soaks up the rain, a peaceful calmness creating a melody for the soul. 

Dark Clouds Brewing as the wind blows in…

The Start of Transformation

After an absence of more than 5 years, a dear friend has provoked me to pick up the virtual pen, and share some of my experiences from across West Africa.

This particular story starts while travelling for the umpteenth time from London, Heathrow to Abidjan, Houphouet Boigny.

This flight is both loved and hated. This flight that drags one from the comfort of the European existence, towards the vortex of reality and festering celebration of life that is Abidjan.

Leaving London, passing over perfectly manicured homes, gardens and farmland, seeing the landscape as you land in Paris and then again when one departs a few hours later. This European illusion that wants you to know that all is well, everything has structure, all is in order.

The first hint of something different arrives into view, if you are lucky enough for a precursor, catching a glance of one of the Mediterranean islands.

The Balearic Islands stands out in stark contrast to the continent, as if they were ripped from both Africa and Europe, left with their rough mountain peaks making a defiant statement to the flat lethargic seas which surround.

The first glimpse of the African continent is surreal and mysterious. The northern coast line oozing with Arabic history both past and present. One that is so foreign and deeply unknown to the average westerner.

The intense emotional allure of foreign lands and foreign cultures.

This continent, at first appearing bare but habitable, soon gives way to Algerian and Malian Saharan sands. The touch of Harmattan dust visible on every horizon, dunes and sands stretch for miles in every direction.

As an African coming for south of the equator, one is both excited and confused with the uncertainty this brings. Excited to see this beloved continent once again and yet confused, as if exploring an unfamiliar part, of a once familiar lover. This northern part of the continent, with a history stretching back way further in time, and completely dissimilar to those green jungles and savannah’s south of the Sahara.

The checkered past of conquest and counter conquest. Religious revolution and the dominance and tenacity of the desert people. Staring out at this sand, 25’000 feet below, one can feel the heat of this desert reflecting back mercilessly.

As the plane drifts further south, the terrain slowly starts to change and morph. A few green patches emerge, the flash of a river in the distance. Water, the essence of life, changes the personality of this continent. Habitation becomes more prominent. The red granite dust and soil so familiar across ‘our’ Africa begins to emerge, striking cords of recognition across the cortex of the brain.

Down south we say that Africa burns in winter time. For the northern sphere this is true as well. Once the rainy season is over, from up high, one can see fires lighting up across the land, over this pseudo winter that the tropics experience during the primary four months of the year.

As the sun sets, initially painting the land in deep oranges and red, the land steadily moves from deep blues, maroons and slowly edges to black, as if to hide its true identity.

A reminder that one cannot experience Africa from a distance. She cannot be understood from a lofty height.

To experience her, to taste her joy, her pain, to feel her passion you have to draw closer. One has to descend and dwell among her people. Feel their pulse, listen to their beat and watch her bleed to know the true pain that she is experiencing.

I will leave this post with a musical recommendation. Farafina, by Mousa Traore.

His melodious rapping style captures the heart of this part of West African, with its joy, sweat, blood, tears and political corruption. May his desire to see Africa awaken and throw off the cloak of inferiority, become a reality in the coming years.

Thanks for Dropping by:

Blogging and journalling about topics and experiences that have made an impact on life and life’s views.  

The beauty of travelling is one realises how small your world and culture is once discovering how differently it is perceived, experienced and appreciated elsewhere.

If you wish, leave a message, and come visit and see when something new inspires.

Love and peace.