A River Blue

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Notes from the Road: An African Journal

August 23rd, 2006

today was
the light
the love
and the lunacy
that life
can only ever
pretend to
be
the kids
painted
many of them
for the first time
I showed them in about a minute
how water colors work
and then they started in
Many
other village kids
who weren’t chosen
to paint
gathered
round to watch
(our supplies
were limited)
But today we had
more than fifty
in groups of twenty-five
And the things
they expressed
in their childlike
scrall
were haunting
Images of homes
burning down
and rebel soldiers
with machine guns
Some even wrote captions
Like basquiat
saying things
like this person died by
the LRA
The day
started though
with music
Different groups
in two different connected
rooms
Singing songs
at the same time
and I walked back
and forth with my recorder
capturing some
purely magical and soulful
moments sometimes blending them
together
The bleed
was fantastic
At lunch
I had a pbj but everywhere
you go many kids
gather round you just to
look at the alien spectacle
of your presence
I broke my sandwich apart
and passed it out to the souls
brave enough to receive
it
A lot of them
are really curious but also afraid
It was funny
to see their reaction when they
cautiously tasted
their first ever
pbj
Lotsa big smiles
and laughter
The stuff that makes
you know
you have to come back
And you have to help provide
basic tools
for their survival
They are
giant souls
in the deepest need