a woman is a lantern
not broom to clean my mind
shine for me, I cannot see
a woman is a lantern
not broom to clean my mind
shine for me, I cannot see
takes me home
to watch drops
roll on a window pane
waves caress sand
-a background refrain
I walk the forest
in my step
it leads me away
from where I came
of the Amazon has gone
the storm that lashed my skin
nectar of native fruit sinned
her arms tightening
under the lightning
I’m not tamed
for the soft shores of a final destination
that to roam is my home
that my peace is found
in the eye of the monsoon
Listen. I have a story to tell. How do you measure happiness, is my story. There are many roads, all well-travelled, that have carried this question like luggage, till it weighed too much to take any further. But I have a secret formula; I won’t try to give the answer, only ask the right questions.
My story is therefore a quest, to find the right questions to ask. In our ‘Western world’ we know how to measure wealth, and we use the same yardstick to measure the amount of happiness we have been allocated. And we have mainstream media who always reassures us by informing us how terrible life is outside our Western ‘sphere’, our cocoon.
Not everyone in our mutual societies clings to the same belief, but most do suckle to it. Most, but not all. I know. I have lived and traveled with Europe’s biggest minority, the Romany Gypsies, and now I am learning at the university of nature among the Saami reindeer herders in Lappland. There is a lot to learn.
The first thing one learns is to try to toss the concept of’Noble Savage’ out of the window, the literary stock character that expresses the concept of an idealized indigene, the ‘Indian’ or ‘aboriginal’ outsider, or “other” who has not been “corrupted” by civilization, and therefore symbolises humanity’s innate goodness. This may seem a pure and pleasant thought, but it is not. One person who often embodied the Noble Savage concept in England was the Scottish poet Robbie Burns. Yes, this Highlander was able to write poetry.
But undeniably, the Gypsies, or Saami people I have lived with or met do not aspire for our aspirations. Granted, we have destroyed most of theirs, but their core values are not ours and ours are not as good as we like to pretend they are. We have a lot to learn, and indigenous peoples do have innate knowledge we do not have, or refuse to have.
When my friend Dr Agnieszka Wojtecka travelled to Namibia, she lived among the Himba people, and photographed her life with them. Poorer people she had never seen in her travels. More peaceful, calmer, or connected to the rhythm of nature either. She asked permission for each photograph she took, and explained to the Himba she would be using the photos for lectures and presentations. They were happy to oblige. And yes, were able to understand those concepts.
As I recently received a strident email, critisising my choice of prompt photo for the Ligo Haibun Challenge this week, I decide to include more photos in this haibun post. I am European. Perhaps that goes part of the way to explaining why nudity does not quote ‘offend’ me. Perhaps if I was quote ‘North American’ I might not have the same values, who knows. Well, I do. This is the way Himba tribal people live and dress. They do not feel uncomfortable knowing others know, nor are they Noble Savages some subconsciously attribute them to be. My self-titled ‘North American’ emailer has stated that if she writes a haibun she will not include the photograph. You are then giving a proverbial slap on the face of the subject photographed, my friend, nothing else, and showing that you consider her values lower than yours. That is unacceptable.
in a dusty village
happiness among the trees
echoes not felt here – why?
Even a hermit such as I enjoys the company of guests from afar in the past…
This morning I woke up…I think that’s a Freudian slip..not meant, my dream sort of fading but still intense. I had no idea her writing could give me this sensation, and at first did not grasp the seduction of her words, only felt with firm certitude the memory of her posts.
I dare not divulge her name, though she writes so beautifully. Dare not think too much, about the images she paints, how her words play with those who read, and the solid effect they leave when the sunrises the next day.
I remember a beautiful photograph of her back, and dreamt of touching her shoulders with my lips, of drifting down, lazily, printing soft patterns with long, languid sighs, drifting downwards, then back up again to whisper and feel the nape of her neck with my cheek.
For a few crucial moments, before I awoke I felt her nude body close to mine and she felt my desire, while entwined, and I told her I loved her mind, while I kissed the inside of her wrists and felt the warmth of her thighs, then kissed her fingertips and teased her lips with mine.
And while she wrapped her fingers around my tense, growing presence I admired her curves, before taking first her earlobes, then a touch further down, each gorgeously inflamed, ever more gently between my teeth, then her bellybutton, tracing tongue, in small circles of Maori design one finds on drummer’s arms, next to the swaying grass skirts of Tahitian dancers, and I thought of the tastes of those exotic flowers……………just before quite suddenly awakening…
The bed was empty, but where I’d dreamed she’d been it seemed warm, as if she had just left, so I stepped outside on the verandah as the rain poured, fresh, invigorating, over me, embarrassing me with its sudden coldness, causing a quick shrinking reaction better left unsaid…
Prompt- GRASP (verb)
I kiss her fingertips as she sits
hair and breasts undone
her belly warm to rays of sun
her neck, back, shiver to my lips,
though still she drinks in the verse,
her book open in front of her
while her thighs envelope my senses
I have no recipe only desire
that her needs be met
by every touch
as her thirst for the words
in front of her
Her nipples and dimple
in her smile
betray her gaze at the page
her eyes slightly glazed
still she tries
and sits still,
as I taste
with no recipe in mind
The attention she craves
as she sits by the window
as I walk by in the snow
is therapy to my creativity
and she knows
how much I admire
so lifts her arms
as the snowflakes drift
her eyes on her book
“First we get naked but not for sex, and we drink beer, but not to get drunk.”
Here I was, giving safety training to Gulf Air pilot and cabin crew trainers.
I had them each give a presentation in the first couple of days to let them show how they got a message across to a group of people. They chose their topics. The air stewardess from Finland was next. Her presentation on that great Finnish institution, the sauna, was met by rapt attention.
When I met her again in Oulu, in Finland last year, it seemed natural to finally have that sauna……so through thorough lack of popular demand, here are more details from my first nude sauna.
I say first nude because my first sauna was not nude and in fact was, according to the red-bearded companion who specialised in this particular form of torture; an Irish sauna. The key difference lay within the bottle of Irish whiskey, which was used to pour onto the hot coals. Instant drunkedness – hot whiskey fumes breathed in, followed by relatively quick sobering up as the alcohol was sweated out.
Only once was enough. Not once a week, as my Irish friend did. Just once.
However, for reasons of general education, I must inform all that the nude sauna done Lappland style has a fair quota of embarrassing stages, as itemised below.
1. As illustrated in our picture. Say no more.
2. Back in the sauna again, after a freezing dip in the snow, and at -18C, it is freezing. But unfortunately I cannot confirm the nude sauna is a good place to go to feel at ease, when sitting opposite a svelte Finnish air stewardess, after prancing around in the snow at goodness knows what freezing temperature. It just isn’t. Can’t quite place why, but when sitting opposite a person of the opposite gender of such appeal, one does want to look at their best, not frozen second best. Or third, either, for that matter.
3. And may I add that men running out of a sauna naked, diving into snow has limited sex appeal. I can just feel it. There is something the gals don’t find attractive about shrieking men…
4. Sitting naked with a beautiful nude air stewardess does have certain benefits for your health. Being flanked by two large local lads, elbows and shoulders touching, also quite naked, doesn’t.
5. Being red, gasping, sweaty and hot when the locals suffer calmly shows a certain lack of style. Getting up to get fresh air for the aforementioned reasons, tripping a bit and sliding a touch against the aforementioned elbow-touching gentleman, so that my private parts grace his knee cap somewhat caps the embarrassment scales.
6. Having a gorgeous nude Finnish air stewardess giggle at you in the sauna for the aforementioned somewhat doubles the embarrassment level.
So if you are to embark on such an odyssey as the nude sauna, choose your companions carefully.
She was nice though.