There are other sweets out of Mogadishu that I devour enthusiastically, an array of crunchy, colorful, cookie-ish treats that generous colleagues hauled to the office for me during a recent trip. And when I write haul, I mean it: in total I carried more than 10 kilos of sweets back to Hargeisa. I daresay no one takes their sugar as seriously as Somalis, and after four years, it’s rubbing off.
We believe that labor will cure what ails you, whether it’s physical or mental or emotional—it may not be the quickest path, but it’s a righteous one and it feels good. Zizou and I hike together, in matching gear and early in the morning, through the forests of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. The tricky thing is discerning when the work is a process of mourning and when it becomes a process of avoidance. But it pulls me out of bed in the morning, it requires a cup of coffee and some clarity of thought, and it gets my feet moving underneath me.
Disoriented and unsure what to write, but feeling the urge anyway, I’ll settle for theft: a smattering of lines written by friends, colleagues, family, to patch what’s broken and smooth what’s rough, sent from Japan, Somalia and Somaliland, Ireland, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and the US. As well, images of Tunisia, one of my very favorite places, by a dear friend, also a food tour guide extraordinaire, observer of life’s humor and depth and, I can attest, a commiserator of great talent and persistence.
Somewhere in your body
there is a hole
full of memories…
It occurs to me in my first moment of stillness in months, over a hot cup of drip coffee in Mogadishu, that perhaps I don’t need answers. Perhaps I need to find a better way to bear the questions, until the next steps emerge from the murky depths, like so many droplets of milk, poured, sunken, and rebounding from the black to the surface, lending depth and comfort to an otherwise bitter swallow.
Bent of posture, upright snoring, barely living, dawn’s ballet. Cups and saucers trooping forward, toward the kettle, grande entrée. Reach for creamer, gather sugar, bring her boiling, don’t delay. Pour with deference, ground beans twirling, let them settle, birth the day. Spoon-fed symphony, come alive now, sip sweet earth-mud, fresh bouquet. Greet thy neighbor, ’round the French press: chapeau, Brewer– grand plié. Images of cups brewed in Nairobi (Le Grenier à Pain), Tokyo (subway cafe), Hargeisa (Ethiopian coffehouse and La Afrah Teahouse), and Dubai (Mokha 1450).