Thursday, April 26, 2007


for y.o.

The village of Kibabwa is located about 7 km from town of Iringa. The land is elevated , looking down over the village. It takes 10 minutes to walk to the Ruaha school from the site of the school land. In the images the ladies are standing on the flattest area where it is suitable to build. You can see the big rocks of granite and the native trees. The land is 100 metres lengthways along the site. It slopes upward at about 25 degrees to the big rock, then it rises steeply at a 45 degrees angle. We get to own the little mountain, too. The steeply sloping land is ours as well. The owners just measured it out along the front, lengthways. It has been recorded in the local lands administrative offices in our name.

Sleeping beneath the snow-banked windows of the Ft. Green apartment, the girl with the magical shoes dreams of the lakehouse, where footprints crazed across the linoleum to the barely audible memory of Glenn Miller on the phonograph. The lake water laps somewhere far down on the rocks along the shore. The boat rocks in the water forever. Maybe each night she dreams the world into being.

"Your witness is but a rushing moment in my long lifetime. I've seen so much already, and will see so much more." Catching even a fragment of this is what a true story is made of. Believing (it doesn't require belief) that most of what is there is behind the visible.

Here time ceased, and it was only the rhythms of the earth by which she measured the turning of days—the cooing of the mourning dove, the insect songs of the midday heat, the rise of the wind in the evening and eventual hesitant glittering of eastern stars. So immersed was she in the mysteries of the walls, that she wasn't sure where the perimeter of her flesh ended and the house began, whether they breathed together or separately, if she was it's mistress or merely an organ within it. She felt that it permeated her being all the way to the cellular level--that she dissolved into its memories, or if she had ever even existed outside this house at all. Within it she was a vaporish transience. A cold feeling began to settle in her bones, and sometimes she would consider the lives of others outside this house, those who seemed to progress in search of presumably attainable rewards, where she, on the other hand, had all her life been hanging onto threads that she dared not let go of, afraid if she did she would just disappear with the ghosts, haunting her own flesh and the rooms of her mind, which always were, and forever would be, empty.

Why, or how, do two rather different individuals (you and me) arrive at such a similar obsession. For years now, I've held the notion that place is saturated with its own memory. I've held it like a personal secret. That the molecules retain a record, however faint, of what they have witnessed; that if we are sensitive, we can pick up the past's belated glow.

It is such fragile skin she lives in, so permeable, so penetrable--the past seeps into her flesh, percolating like groundwater. Somewhere in the shadows she is vaguely aware of a man, carved away from her by a separate truth, a separate continent, who walks the streets, aching to see with his whole body.