Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In the Garden


“A man who doesn’t have a rice field should
strive to cultive the land within himself”
– Ida Pedanda Made Sideman, ‘Salampah Laku’

We lived like kings and queens
in a spoiled garden
our homes built of stone
while the locals lived on grass
their feet pasted with mud and rice
serving our smiles

away to the west a cloud rose
a sort of incense finishing the day
we drank beer
watched frangipani fall into a pool
ducks and dogs and flags
moving in the padi fields

the rest of the world
was made out of t-shirt slogans
motorbikes, kites and wi-fi connections
children played football in the dust
the sun was the sun but it was green

voices talking, a séance of the globe,
jewelry on a wrist
beside the road men sat caressing roosters
children stared through a window screen
men like tiger-things – teeth + smile –
Sprite, fries, sorrow: the entrepreneurs,
while the musicians turned echoes into bells

outside at night the dogs barked
at the already dead, hepatitis moons
shone in the eyes of the mosquitoes,
a boy holding a used plastic bag
walked down the road seemingly happy,
horns tooted and a thin trail of smoke
ghosted the darkness as a motorcyclist
took another drag of Djarum Blck
and rode on

everywhere else the strewn offerings
for the dead
were kicked and trodden on, or avoided,
a climate of flowers and pizza
breathed in the shadows and dirt,
masks and dancing, cobras, transgenic rice, cobwebs
they dug up the dead chanting a new litany and burned them
while the roosters killed each other with knives
and the crumpled notes unfolded in dry bloom.

- Mark Mordue

* Written on the eve of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali. 
First published at Meanjin online October 7th, 2011. 'Djarum Black' is a 
local cigarette that uses a triangle instead of an 'A' for its branding.
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