Okra

Two women sit under a thatched roof 
supported by rafters
coarse wood brown
smiling and chatting together
Chickens scratch at the edge of their shelter
a bold shiny colourful rooster
a big shiny black hen

Their surroundings are a circular patch
dry dusty earth red
small mud brick dwellings
define a perimeter orange
The late autumn day is lit by a cold sun of
clean blue light

One woman sits above the other higher
she is perched
Her long thin legs hang over a shallow edge
a rug covered platform
She is the older in a thick faded purple
dress a pullover yellow
is topped with a scarf white around her neck
Her head is swaddled in a woollen wrap crimson
it frames a face sun
lit, weathered and aged by decades of labour

Spaces such as this
fields such as she can choose
to see at anytime
will forever be green and brown
She gazes pensively across
open communal space
She ponders her past with pleasure and regret
she speaks of things new
old, deep and trivial
Her arthritic hands clasped in a lap
of gratitude flesh
Her battered Nike sneakers peek out from
the long layers of fabric above grey and yellow
her face is calm
Her future as it will be

The younger sits cross legged
a woven mat under her strung tan
Together cultivating lines of okra
drying under sheltering eaves ragged
shadows of indigo host
hangings vertically in bright green
coloured lengths
unclasped necklaces ornaments
of metres adorn the space with a decorative
interior that creates a sense
coming festivity
The drying shed colours the day, the place
it’s people making
according to the crop
a pride of place for transient
prettiness and implications
security, work well done

Here for generations other
younger women have
sat for hours
days post harvest preparing
sustaining products of manual fieldwork
multi hued
for deep grey winter consumption
Her dress is brighter golds
magentas her hands are as yet
unaffected by the gnarly
growths destined by labour
She repeats centuries old weaving
patterns confidently efficiently unhurried
listening quietly thoughtfully respectfully

Tales of the past wash over her black and white
through her as water of life in delicate pastels
as hope as comfort
She knows here there are will be
still lessons to be gleaned
conversation the reflections of her elder
The younger a willing learner of
a quasi meditative state borne soft pink
by the methodical repetitious
nature of her work it is was as surely known
the best way for learning lessons
by the word of her people
successes and failures
myth legend
retelling that never ceases to inform
warm warn entertain and delight

There is comfort in the learning
a knowing that all the natural obstacles over
which there is little control life
will continue on on on
There is no question about how
time is to be spent
day by day this is dictated
by seasons culture necessity
green yellow brown grey

There is no concept of time ticking away
each day is known-quantity where
choice is limited but colour rich
life is sometimes unpredictable dangerous
set fluid simple
giving and taking with impunity
Time has no measure
life itself opaque

Two women commune as did
two before them
back it goes into the dark
blue of distance
where many women become every one
sitting together, stringing up green okra
another part of every year’s never ending
rainbow

5 Good Things Only #02

Columbines.

1. Columbines flowering in the garden.

2. Sitting in front of the fire with a cup of green and lemon myrtle tea.

3. Talking with old friends on the phone while separated by lockdown.

4. Remembering that paying attention to a person more experienced in an activity can result in your own improvement.

5. Participating in local produce exchanges where relative value has no meaning. Just the pleasure of giving and receiving is enough. Today it was eggs and firewood exchanged for leeks and lettuce.

Firewood and eggs.

The vicissitudes of life

 
 From birth through growth to the time of decline
 From decline to decay such a time is mine
 For all that went before for all that went astray
 For all that has been given and will be taken away
  
 I see the patterns unfold through my life by the gloaming of hindsight
 The illumination of knowing through latter years' insight
 As the past stretches out behind me the future road is short
 The decisions I have made will shortly come to nought
  
 I take one last chance to pass on the learning of my years 
 One last chance to help those to come if those to come have ears
 History is our greatest teacher for handling the vicissitudes of life
 Human nature is our undoing when handling the inconvenient truths of   advice
  
 Secure your future with love and enough wealth is the best advice I can give
 Working to this end gives hope which gives purpose to how you live
 Start early and start young to earn a path to joy and learn to take your rest
 Don’t deviate from this path but keep it flexible to be your very best
  
 Loss may strike you without notice grief may haunt your very door
 Grow from your loss for better to turn haunting to past lore
 Change will come unanticipated may shake you to your core
 See change as opportunity to put each foot firmly on the floor

 Wealth does not mean riches just resilience and security
 For you, your partners, your dependents, your growing maturity
 Be love and wealth empowered so that choices can be made
 Be moral with you choices and ethically do not fade

 When love comes your way hold it closely to your heart
 If love lost should leave you reeling be proud that you took part
 Know you have been loved and can love again because love is all around 
 If one thing is known it is all want love and with time it can be found