Bali Afternoon, NaPoWriMo, Apr 2, 2020

Bali Afternoon

Their shadows float behind them in the afternoon.
Sari-clad, they hurry, ahead of the monsoon
where water sheets in currents, a brutal driving hand
sweeping away the humid heat of this exotic land.

Morning-listless palm trees dance to  gamelan of rain.
The dust of temples washed away, they glisten once again.
Monkeys cower in branches. Dogs slink away to hide.
Only water in the streets. All else has gone inside.

In the shadows of their studios, the batik-makers hold
their wax-pots, streaming rivers of waxy molten gold.
They’ll stem the flood of colors as each gently pours
precise tiny rivers that echo those outdoors.

Shadows in the corners. Great baths of brown and blue,
that when the liquid wax is hard, they’ll dip their cloth into.
Then boil off the wax so they can make rivers anew
A different course determined for each successive hue.

Outside the monsoon blows away and sun comes out again.
As all the voices of the world—the music and the din
start up again and heat comes back to bake the village street.
Mud turns to dust, sweat beads the brows of everyone you meet.

Tomorrow in the afternoon, another hour of rain,
for nature follows her own steps over and again,
like the batik artist, who dips his cloth once more,
dries the cloth, gets out his pot, and once more stars to pour.

Sheltering from the Monsoon, Ubud, Bali, 1996

 

The NaPoWriMo Prompt, Day 2 is to write a poem about a specific place.

33 thoughts on “Bali Afternoon, NaPoWriMo, Apr 2, 2020

    1. lifelessons Post author

      These memories are from 1973, but all my photos were slides, so I had to rely on a second visit in 1994–or perhaps 96. I guess I’ll take all the time I have now to convert slides to jpegs! It will distract me from cooking and sorting out drawers and cabinets! And excessive blogging.

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          1. Jane Dougherty

            I hope so. I hope when they reopen it, they will rethink the consequences, keep what you found magical about the place and throw out all the trash, but I don’t suppose they will. Cash.

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  1. marialberg

    Beautiful poem. I’ve wanted to go to Bali for some time. Maybe when this is all over. You gave me a great G word for my blogging A to Z Challenge. I’m doing musical terms and this was my first experience with the word gamelan. So, thank you.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      When I was there the first time, there were nights where there were gamelans playing all over town so the entire village was like one big gamelan. Each one took up an entire room or small house..It was magical.

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  2. judyreeveswriter

    Thanks for the memories, Judy. I just wrote about my time in Bali yesterday, a memory in my memoir. I thought, for a time, I’d love to go back there… live there? Mind you, my visit was in 1979 or so. Sometimes as the poet said, you can’t go home again, whatever “home” might mean.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I went in ’73 and ’94 or ’96–can’t remember which. It had changed so much even in that time but was still a special place. Where did you stay? Kuta Beach was ruined by the nineties but ideal in the 70’s. We stayed in Ubud when Bob and I went and loved it there. We were going to move there at one point but then lost our housesitter to Epstein Barr and then later moved to Mexico.

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      1. judyreeveswriter

        I was on assignment for the nonprofit I worked for at the time. We had a project in a village outside Mengwi, but I traveled around taking photos and interviewing people. I did go to Ubud, which I too loved. After my work was finished I stayed a couple of days at Kuta Beach before the next part of the journey. In my mind I can still see those hillsides planted with rice and the young boys out early in the day with their buckets, catching eels and bringing them back to eat. And the sweet children who roamed the compound, everyone responsible for them. “It takes a village” kind of thing.

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          1. judyreeveswriter

            Maybe not. From 1975-1983 I worked for Project Concern, a nonprofit organization that worked in developing countries health care and prevention, setting up clinics and training local health care workers. I worked in PR, so my job involved traveling to the projects to gather information, take photos, doing interviews. I produced a/v productions and wrote newsletters and feature stories, etc. One of the best, most heartbreaking jobs I ever had.

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            1. judyreeveswriter

              Hi Judy,
              During those years I worked for Project Concern Int’l, I traveled to Guatemala, Hong Kong, and Bolivia in addition to Bali. Our Mexico project was just across the border in Tijuana and I went there often. We had a project in Gambia, but I never got there. I also went on research trips to sites in the US, on the Navajo Reservation and in Appalachia. I also got to travel to many places in the US to support the fundraising efforts of volunteers. The international travel was one of the best rewards of the job, plus the idea that my work was contributing to the world in a different way than anything I’ve done before or since.

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            2. judyreeveswriter

              I worked with them from 1975 to 1983. I didn’t stay in many jobs for more than 7-8 years. Unless the job changed significantly, I got bored and needed to find the next thing. Kinda wish I’d been able to go to Gambia before I left though.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I wish that were always true, Dale. I have a hard time getting to the same state when writing prose. I’m a little less than half way through my book about Ethiopia and finding it hard going.

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