Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Photo Album in my Bilum

Several months ago, I was sitting next to a window in a village house when I should have been sleeping and was talking with God. As I poured out my emotions (and scribbled notes, which later became this poem), He merely listened and waited, wrapping my humanity in His love. After all, He whispered back, Jesus knew separation from His Father as well.

The Photo Album in my Bilum*

Some take their family with them
Seven cups at the table, bug collections and Barbies
Heaped behind the couch; generations wander together
over road, sky, water, hands intertwined
discussing road signs, whispering good night beneath mosquito nets.
But my family travels trapped
In plastic, flattened smiles between the pages
Rattling against thermos and torch, waiting
For pointing introductions: mother, father, sister, cousins, friends.
Two years, and they haven’t aged a day
Like a tabloid promise fighting wrinkles and gray hair.
But waking as Rip Van Winkle is like starring in a horror film, and I stare
out the window, listening to a chorus of amens drift into silence.
Maybe eternity will be like the album, unchanging togetherness
After a life of Skype calls and 1 am emails, but
sometimes, Lord, a reward of a hundred times over
seems a dime-store replacement for

*a bilum is a traditional string bag in Papua New Guinea