Thursday, April 28, 2011

tanzanian sojourn

and so, over there, if you lean down and get your nose close to the ground, you may see some imbedded marks which are the only witness to an ancient tale......


three people walk closely together, side by side, presenting one foot in front of the other. they walk for miles. every day. the people are barefoot and wear only small, irregular bits of basic covering on their bodies, primitive pieces formed from animals and plants. they are a man, a woman, and a child. as the sun lifts up from the horizon and hovers high in the sky over the grassy plain, they move steadily along. the heat from the sun burns the air, the ground, the meager vegetation. but they are safe for now, comforted by each other's presence. 

in the early afternoon the world around them begins to darken. steely, gray clouds slide in and shut out the blue sky, slamming the horizon and the earth closed with a flash of light. the air is steamy. the murderous heat suffocates. it is silent except for the monotonous footsteps crunching the grass and a distant growling thunder. 

a forgiving wind picks up and soothes the tired walkers. their breathing calms and is lighter, easier. rain begins to fall. thunderheads rise up, closer, closer. the three people continue to walk straight ahead, always onward. they do not turn right or left, but move as if they see something, are following something, in the distance - a point, a beacon, a mark which calls to them, urges them forward.  they see nothing, are blinded by the storm, but they can feel it deep inside. they are determined to keep seeking, seeking....

after many miles the earth gradually changes from burned grass to silken dirt to soft mud. a moist volcanic ash records the trail of their three sets of footprints. the rain falls heavier, steadier. round raindrop dents surround the footprints, black polka dot holes on black ground. then the footprints fade away.

over thousands of years the ash hardens and a short section of foot and rain imprints are encased and preserved forever on the dark, solid ground. or perhaps not forever, only three million years or so, close enough to forever. the legacies of the three, the only part of their story left for us to ponder, are the fossilized remains of the raindrops and the footprints.

today, on the spot in tanzania where the three walkers sojourned, saplings grow. as the trees' tiny roots begin to extend in all directions, they strive to fill in the places on the earth marked by the toes and heels which had long ago begun a journey. these small veins of life move steadfastly along, pushing and cracking the dirt, spreading, seeking, all over again.

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