Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mother Africa

Driving home from dropping my girls off at school the other day,
a CD came on in the shuffle.

It was the Asante Children's Choir CD and it had been there for months.
Number 2.
Filled with songs from a group of beloved children who we'd grown to know and love and call by name.

When we had layed our eyes on them, they had all looked the same.
Same pale blue shirts and khakis.
Same short dark hair.
My girls had asked me if there were any girls in the group, not realizing that over half of them were.

We had offered to host a couple for a period of five days that would become seven.
Then four more a month later.
Then five more a few weeks after that.
And then, inside, for a time that had no end.

We always ended up with the same two, not completely by chance.
I would send emails begging for Capi and Divine because we had fallen in love.

Over a course of fewer days than fill a month they had become part of us.

Saying goodbye to them the final time had been possibly the hardest most painful things I'd ever done.
As deep and affecting as child birth.
Releasing from my body two beautiful girls that in my heart were mine.

When they left, I had tucked notes every place I had been able to think of in the hopes that they'd find them one lonely night on the road as they unpacked the few things they owned.
The few things that were now mixed with a pile of dresses that were too small for Alena that I'd handed them before I left the room and sobbed.
They had danced in front of their mirror and I felt ashamed for months to look in mine.

I hoped that they even understood that my love was not brought on by a one night flurry of emotion because of some great slide presentation or a heart-felt plea from a pulpit for a sponsor.
It was not spurred by ankle bells or grass skirts under good stage lighting.

I hoped they knew that this love was formed on quiet afternoons amidst a sea of nail polish.
That it grew with wafts of the Vaseline that they put on their hair after showers they had taken together because that's what they were used to.
It bloomed with the cards they left each time they were gone on the road that said that they wished they could stay with us forever.

This was a love with roots that spread under an ocean that sprawled under a small dirt floor, and that had sprouted its buds inside me.

We told them we would come see them.
They had asked if we "knew the year."

The CD played as I passed grocery stores and four bedroom homes and cars with spoilers added.

In the beginning of the CD a young boy's small voice talks of the triumph of the African spirit through all the blood-shed and self-destruction.
Then he says, "Arise! Oh, Mother Africa. Arise."
and I realize that from that very first day they climbed into the back of my van
I have taken that phrase as a plea.

Arise and
MOTHER Africa.

Kerri Green.
In your white mini-van scattered with excess.

Mother Africa.

And with tears still as easy as the day they said goodbye,
in my heart I say I will.

1 comment: