Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Mali – A Future Untold - Swimming in a Day or Two

Heat of the night inside this house,
The walls and ceiling exuding the temper of the day's sun,
Which beat on the concrete roof for twelve grueling hours,
And I move slowly,
Padding across the tiled floors,
Drifting in a narcotic sweat,
Desperate for something,

My daughter, not three years old,
Perspired from her brow and back,
Spread arms wide on her mattress,
Sunk heavily far away in her first hour of sleep.

Her brother, likewise,
I removed his shirt,
A whisper of relief from his skin,
Air brushed across his moist back.

Over by the wall I reached and clicked the switch
Of the ceiling fan from zero to low speed
And watched it ache into rotation,
The blades lethargic, unwilling,
Forced semblance of movement,
Then I closed the contact for the air conditioner,
Dull roar groaning under compression,
Cooled air like molasses,
Brought into motion,
Only to fade in the heat,
And I turned, stopped in the doorway,
Peered into the darkness
Where my children slumbered deep.

Move to my room,
Bend down and crawl under the mosquito net,
To my mat
To lie upon the floor,
On my back,
Hands clasped behind my head,

I stare up past netting
To the shadow of a whitewashed ceiling,
And notice the itch of insect pricks
Two on my legs and one on my wrist,
And wonder about malaria,
My stomach churning slightly ill
From the copious cold water I quaffed,
Which failed to quench my thirst,
From the raw nicotine of tobacco,
Which I had spit out in the toilet
And flushed down watching it swirl away
In viscous, tepid water.

Today I had met Americans and Belgians…

In a house not far away,
A swimming pool and servants,
Gardens just enough unkempt
To know that no one really lives there,
Technocrats of global organizations,
Allegiances far distant from
A people and their soil
For whom the courtiers profess to care.

There was relentless air conditioning,
The drip drip drip of collected humidity
Into a bent tin can below the machine's spout,
A pool of brown water seeping around its bottom,
Perforated pinholes from gathering rust.

There was fine wine
And pastries
Imported cheese
And chocolates
Passing from one exotic character to the next,
Lips rimming glasses,
Crumbs dusting chins.
All dressed in blue jeans,
International wear for all.

A long haired, pony tailed man,
Thin, breezy cheer, flash threatening smile.
Cropped hair, terse, tense man,
Stout, loud, and slouched.
A bulging, bear sized man,

Long winded, teller of tales among the people.
Odd contrast, all their women wives,
Passive, listening, attentive mice,
Who in another venue
Would profess the power of parallel careers.

And me and my kids
So my attention divided,
As I listen with one ear,
Sip my wine,
And attend to simple needs,
Pees and spills and pieces of pizza no green peppers please,
As I listen to talk of Cote d'Ivoire
Ethnic cleansing,
One hundred thousand refugees
Crossing into Mali in two short days;
I hear talk of faltering fuel supplies
For kitchen propane stoves,
And rising prices because
No trucks dare move on southern highways,
And talk of who is who
Names I know nothing of,
All claims to savvy why for what and when.

Me thinking that the madness surrounding us,
Equals bullets, blood, and slaughter,
An unfathomable poverty,
Not just no food, no school, no vaccines,
But of anger, fear,
Centuries of elusive forces
Dark, unbreechable, seering the skins
Of utterly lost and drifting peoples...

Sweating sick empty men women
Seething mass
Of severed chaos
Of souls and mortal corps atomized
Sweating dew upon their naked breasts
Wet smacking wetness
Fecund stinging stench in their nostrils
Driving madness red coursing through their veins
With triggers in their fingers
Bullets in their belts
Lust bursting through their loins
Destruction flashing in their eyes

Futile bloody murder and defilement,
They rage upon each other.

Me thinking,
Still upon the floor,
Alone on my back, hands behind my head,
Watching the ceiling fan turn slowly,
Pressing down on heavy heat
That I would take up the offer
To take the kids over swimming in a day or two.

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