The Ancient Modern
Another Wednesday in Africa / Joshua Alan Sturgill
Morning in Addis Ababa. Bees on the balcony lavender. Construction noises. Traffic—motors, horns, sirens. Awoke from euphoric dreams: I was receiving guests at a beautiful African home; not my home, but I had the use of it, and invited all my friends to a dinner party. But, I woke up rather stiff and sore—the side effect of yesterday’s Yellow Fever vaccine.
Everyone works from 8-4. The housekeeper comes from 9-1. The sun rises at 6:16 and the bees are on the lavender by 7. I have tea with the sunrise.
Clouds, construction, rain, construction, night, construction. Up and up the city climbs. Who will live in these currently-empty high-rises? I feel the pen in my hand. I feel the referring-but-not-quite-connected relationship between the letters I was taught and the letters the pen makes on the page. The Ideal Letter keeps its uniqueness, but lends its ghost to my journal. I think a series of sleepy, disconnected images:
Trees are bones The Giving Tree A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming ...rains fall soft upon your fields... Mary, depicted as a Rose
What is satisfaction? What is satisfied? Where does desire come from? —and is fulfillment-of-desire the same as end-of-desire? Eating satisfies hunger, but also fuels the capacity for hunger. Eating causes hunger. Satisfaction causes need…? Ears and eyes are hungry, too.
I never tire of seeing mountains. Some faces exhaust me, though. There are some strikingly beautiful faces that I weary of seeing very quickly. But mountains are endlessly attractive. And I never tire of watching the growth of plants—especially flowers. A single flower is ready to bloom on the potted rose here on the balcony. But it seems to be waiting. Waiting. I can look inside where the leaves have begun to part and I see a bright red against the green.
I water the rose. I never tire of watching water spread out, and then, sink slowly into soil. It must be the most gentle thing I know: water pausing for a moment on the surface of dry ground, and then—as if hearing a cue or arranging a path—it enters. Or maybe it is invited? How beautiful that soul and soil are so closely spelled.
I want to stop up my ears against the sound of the cement mixer. But then, I wouldn’t hear these beautiful birds.