Upon a time

I went swimming once in Africa
to defy the water demons there—
bugs, hippos, worms and crocs, who,
(and this is true) do indeed fake it very well.
And as I dove in I thrilled then to think
“Hey Mr. Hippopotamus, where are you!?
Are you afraid to take me in your jaws,
to mix with me in my post?
Are you afraid to dance with me,
to roar me loudly home?
Come on Mr. Hippopotamus, where are you!?”

It all seems so silly now, I know,
yet there are times when cycling
when the sun starts pulsing through the trees
and the light starts dancing on the edge that soon
all I can hear is my muffled heart, in rhythm;
it gets cold and everything goes dark
and I start flailing to and fro
looking up and around
holding my breath,
treading water
and waiting,
just waiting…

Africa is beautiful, tragic and wonderful. Years ago I went there to live—first in Rwanda and then in Tunisia—for my religion. I am a Bahá’í and in my religion, the place you go to serve is referred to as your “post.”

I really did go swimming in Africa while I was in Rwanda, something ex-patriots seldom do because of the water born diseases and dangerous animals there. It was at Lake Kivu, high up in the hills (called locally moraines) where the dangers, although lessened, were still real. We stayed at a small, simple hotel run by an order of Belgian nuns; the area is close to the famous mountain gorilla habitat, although on that trip we did not go searching for them. I fear that after the Rwandan genocide, the hotel and a chance for a like experience, are now gone.

Thank you for reading Upon a time. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

john

© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.

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