Saturday, November 15, 2008

Graham High: LODGE

dark teak and whitewash
in the silent jungle lodge—
one bright blue suitcase

When does it really hit home, that moment of feeling wholly, undeniably foreign in a strange and unknown land? Not at the first touchdown of the aircraft; nor upon leaving the airport lounge. Other tourists, your fellow travellers, cocoon these first impressions in a spun shell of familiar features, understood speech, shared gestures and communal excitement.

Even when being collected by your transfer driver in the purple two-stroke taxi, you are greeted by someone who, though undeniably of a different culture and race, meets you on your own terms, shyly speaking your own language.

Then, at the colonial hotel, you are welcomed, shown to your room, your suitcase waiting for you in the corner having mysteriously arrived from the lobby by another route. The door closes and suddenly you are alone, out of the cocoon. A strange creature among strangeness. As you sit on the bed that is not quite your bed, you anticipate the night that you have yet to live through.

through the rattan chair
an electric fan shreds the breeze—
hum of the jungle

Restless, you feel you need to make a change of place. You move to the balcony and absorb the late sun, the vivid, singular viewpoint. And you too are the viewpoint. Highly visible. Irradiant with sudden self-consciousness. You are like a glow-worm unexpectedly revealed on a turned leaf. You are hardly aware of the dark hand that discretely sets down the courtesy drink before you. You are not the same you. This is not the same sun.

caught in the bottle
green sunlight pours slowly
into the glass

Gradually you feel more comfortable. A kind of nostalgia overcomes the need to stay sharp. The flurry of new images, the sounds and smells, find a place to settle inside you to form a surface, a continuum that blends the old familiar with the new unknown.

dreaming of home
the postcards blow over
the balustrade

You move back inside. After a while you accept yourself. It feels like you really live here. Maybe you’ve always lived here. But it still feels strange. You throw yourself on the bed and read the book you brought with you: something to bridge the hiatus; a link to a re-play of the recent past. You try to find something in your memories of where you’ve come from that is as vivid as the brightness of these green leaves. And for the moment you are lost in your own story.

last page of the book—
a trace of mosquito spray
where my thumb has been


by Graham High
Blackheath, West Midlands, England

1 comment:

Crafty Green Poet said...

this is excellent, very evocative and beautifully written