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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Holiday Diaries

one

to those wealthy holidaymakers
journeying the world's beauty spots:
what do they write
in their holiday diaries there? --

such as exotic Latin America
where the sunshine
has its own smell in the
bougainvillea-scented air,

or in Russian-doll fashion,
where you can take an equal succession
of aeroplanes that decrease in size
to small islands off Mozambique --

holiday-hopping over these stepping stones,
far-flung patches of paradise
that seemingly fell to earth
for the rich, to tell their friends

back home what treasures to seek
out from a break from the consumer world,
tired from all the playground rules
just as unfair to the rich as the weak;

but do they see a few feet away
the local village over there? --
the spectacle of pregnant women
teetering on the edge

of a stinking well to haul up
dirty water by trembling hand, and tend
to scrub-like patches of crops,
or mend clothes for food?

(of course not, they're not that crude)
the wealthy holidaymakers sleep
in open-sided luxury log villas
and get to watch by torchlight giant
turtles lay eggs in hot sand.

two

those that live out a four season
hospitality in the street,
roaming souls in lost bodies
sold cheaply so they can eat,

do the holidaymakers ever see
those silent children
with swollen bellies of malnutrition,
as they start the day?

and do they walk in their feet to gaze
at poverty from a lower eye-level,
or wonder at those who serve them
to feed family they never see?

but where locals don't have electricity
and cook their food
on wood fires on dirt floors,
who cares for talk with morning coffee?

or in India, you can bathe in rose petals
while Indians themselves wash
their babies from the dregs of a lake
bled dry by five-star hotels;

or you can ignore the tiny -- so tiny --
hungry begging toddlers scrambling
in your deep pockets for
whatever you chose to throw --

do the rich wonder what these misnomers
must think -- if they can think at all --
of their cameras, iPods and Cartier bags
(and possibly an adopted native child, or two)
pulled along by locals in tow?

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