Like a princess

I wish I could say something profound after my two weeks in South Africa and Madagascar. Maybe it was the density of our time there – or the mixture of poverty and joy that I am once again finding to be at the center of life. Maybe it’s just the jet lag. But I think these kinds of experiences sometimes need to just stew for a while until they begin to form something recognizable to others. The first step is for it to become recognizable to me, I suppose.

Conversing with a former Prime Minister, “advising” a potential Presidential candidate, driving through a city of 2 million without stop signs and hundreds of people competing for the road, peering at lemurs in a rain forest, and crying with a new friend because it is worth it to let your heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God… all of these experiences are beating in my heart.

Really, I don’t know what to say. But I want to share something with you, so if you don’t mind a work in progress, I’d like to just let my impressions breathe imperfectly onto these pages. It is a beginning of the intersection of my story with the story of Madagascar. Let’s see what happens.

I am sitting by a rutted red dirt road
Malagasy am radio
3 geese, and a couple of barking dogs
are competing
babies wrapped around the bent backs
of tiny women laying wet clothes to dry
on the dirt from the river wash
 
across the valleys, lone people wade through rectangles of rice patties
cut into fields of malaria swamps
 
I have watched children
and old women
barefoot
in filth-stench
climbing on garbage piles
Picking through god knows what
I didn’t ask
I couldn’t stomach it
It is real garbage here
Not clothing or old baby carrots or unwanted appliances
 
Still
Last night after a glass of wine,
I lay down in a thatched roof hut
to the rapping of crickets and cicadas,
frogs,
and the haunting cry of the Indri
 
A chameleon
skittered across the room,
chattering
a welcomed companion
even though I stayed up too late
for her company
 
It was as if the night
was carrying on conversation
across a cup of coffee
with friends
as if God was strolling
through the rain forest
with me
in her arms
pointing at banana trees
 
Such sweetness
I did not deserve
knowing what I know
although I received it
because I know how to
eyes closed
palms open
tucked under a net
like a princess 
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4 Responses to Like a princess

  1. jaytrock says:

    Real, and beautiful – makes me want to join you and the others who live there

  2. Mary Kay Beck says:

    Lovely Shannie–doesn’t need work, I don’t think! So glad hat you are home safe! MK

  3. cfiske says:

    Yes – I can see it and feel it! Actually, I most of all loved when you said “all of these experiences are beating in my heart”
    🙂

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