Ladders aren’t meant for climbing

Well, they could be towel ladders ๐Ÿ˜ƒ so this is a story that makes me smile even today. When I remember Stefano, a carpenter in Nairobi who constructed them for me, my eyes gleam in fond delight. Wherever he may be now, I hope the light is always bright for him. We still have three of the four ladders he made for us, here in our home in the US.

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You sauntered in like one of those blues men of the Mississippi / as if you would improvise further on the Jacaranda weather / and wore an amused grin at my foreign Swahili as I knitted numbers into measurements / making syllables linger in mid sentence / scrambling for punctuation and the words after / but everyone loves conversations in places where the sun burns for banter / and here I was, arguing for ladders that weren’t meant for climbing //

Wood wasted in hanging towels you winced / then you enjoyed my weak attempts to stutter meaning to such a claim / Your voice lilted into a river song / upstream, downstream, to a montage of dhows stuck at the mouth / Respect was always a measure of tone in these places / the nod of the head / the grin / the smile / everything but the words //

My little slip of paper you relegated to the logic of your memory / that promptly forgot you placed it in your trouser pocket like my detailed instructions / Four ladders later, you arrived on a day far into the future that wasn’t told my calendar / but the towels weren’t planning a trip anytime soon //

Solid soft wood you sawed by hand and sanded by the sweat of your brow / like in the age of spears and stones / to gather into that / which if man were to climb a rung, the next would not obey any law of ladders / You imagined a long towel / a short towel / and then a longer towel perhaps / I laughed at myself / How come I didn’t imagine the same as well / That’s why I keep your ladders / Towels are not the same as legs and feet / and towels needn’t go anywhere //

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For the life of me I couldn’t understand the arrangement of rungs on these ladders with gaps of 14, 16.5, 22 and 12 inches between them. He thought he had done a wonderful job and I didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise so I changed my logic to embrace his I think. We still have the ladders and they bring a smile to my face even so. ๐Ÿ™‚

An archipelago of emotion

I remember the time we spent in the Maldives was perhaps the true becoming ofย  coastal spirits. Our home was on the island of Male, we had to take a ferry to our gym that was on the neighbouring island, meet friends sometimes on yet another one and we snorkelled at some of the resort islands or family islands around. It was life contained on a sliver of land in an archipelago and yet the ocean was vast and it makes you rethink your place in the universe.The body realizes it is water next to yet another body of water, bobbing as it appears on terra firma.

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You got me a bread bible / there was flour on that island like the Lord threw manna to the displaced / to say, take what you need and bake //

So everyone baked cake / on the tiniest speck floating on an ocean of majestic splendour / in the azure of sky and the cerulean of sea for this raft of an island couldn’t tell the difference / being lost in both //

Castaways at sea / learning to bake bread a different way / like love that was leavened to the lightness of ocean froth / swimming like angel fish or angelic rays / little curious sharks circling / but we had each other and bread //

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I need to rework this poem perhaps or write many more on Male and the Maldives. The islands had a way of seeping into the consciousness. Nowhere is the throbbing of pulse felt more distinctly than living and loving on the tiniest islands in the vast of an ocean. Such insignificance and yet the feeling so profound.