The Farm

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Photo: Weston MacKinnon on Unsplash; Saskatchewan, Canada

 

“Look Papa!” the boy’s voice rose in excitement.

“I see,” the man replied. His deep voice resonated in the small space.

“You didn’t even move your head,” the young eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“I did not need to.”

The child exhaled and shook his head and the movement reminded the man of a yearling. Impatiently straining at the edge of youth, eager to race headlong into life.

The man eased the pressure on the pedal and moved his foot to the other, stopping the car.

“I am looking now,” he smiled. “Thank you, Son.”

The boy’s eyebrows rose but he asked nothing. They watched the buffalo together, the sun and field and beasts a golden-brown.

“Is this their farm?” the boy finally asked.

“It is their home,” the man replied. “The farm came to live on it.”

The boy nodded, his ancestors evident in his soulful eyes. “They are like us.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw

 

 

Upending

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Brugge, Belgium (Photo: Libby Penner on Unsplash)

 

Some call this city “Venice of the North,” but they don’t know the other direction this town goes, and it is not one of the winds.

I know, because I’ve seen it.

Seen what lies beneath the streets, glazed over by blind eyes of tourists snapping photos, dismissed by those who should know better yet still refuse to view.

For the ones beneath need acknowledgement to manifest. Not trust, recognition.

I know, because I don’t trust them. Not one bit. And yet they are there, plain as anything: The Upenders.

They’ve been here before people, and they expect you pay respects. Their mirage is reflected in the still waters of the canals, and when you let yourself go below the floor, beyond the basement, they’ll reveal themselves. If you won’t visit, beware. For when you least expect, they’ll rise to flip yours over, resentful of a willful ignorance of Upending.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Belgium

 

Tea Time

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Inle Lake, Myanmar (Photo: Julien de Salaberry on Unsplash)

 

Arkar waited. The sky, his namesake, spread gray and calm above him.

Sometimes it took Dachen a little longer to make it. No matter.

Long breaths passed. A dog barked in the distance. Children laughed, and Arkar thought of the first time he’d met Dachen. They were but boys themselves then. Dachen had just come to live with his grandparents, who lived downstream from Arkan’s childhood home. The old folk enfolded the young orphan. “Our great joy, he is, true to his name.”

Dachen was as gregarious as Arkar was shy. They balanced each other. Then and since.

A pat sounded and Arkar lifted his pole in welcome. Dachen neared and expertly swiveled his boat to face Arkar’s.

“Twelve fish today,” Dachen’s face shone. He accepted a cup from Arkar. “Two big ones here for your wife.”

Arkar smiled his thanks. For the fish. For his friend. “Tea time?”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Myanmar

 

 

Land Of Water

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Photo: Guyana, by Joshua Gobin on Unsplash

 

“Have we always been here?”

“‘Always’ is a long-winded word,” Papa’s melodic voice told me a story was coming. “Some people lived here before our ancestors. Some had come after we’d already been here. The land and the water were here before any humans had come. The word ‘always’ does not mean one thing.”

“Moses said we’re not from here. That we were brought here as slaves.”

“Are you a slave?”

“No, Papa.”

“Are you here?”

“Yes, Papa.”

“You and I are Guyana born. Have you worked this land, swam in the Essequibo, witnessed Kiaeteur Falls, walked the savanna, ate manioc?”

“I have.”

“So you have your answer, Son. We’re all children of land and water. All born of wombs filled with water, all depend on water, and will one day become rain and go over the falls. Your ancestors got here. You’re here. Where else would you be from?”

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Guyana, South America

 

 

Uduru’s Sudan

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Sudan, Khartoum (Photo: Amma Hareib on Pixabay)

 

Uduro held her head high, the wrapped money tucked securely in a fold of her clothing. Only a small amount was in the beaded purse. No need to give pickpockets reason to try and outsmart her. She knew better than most.

The market’s alleys welcomed her, coolly shaded under the roof. The dimmer light was soothing. She inhaled, sated. Shoes. Spices. Food. Clothing. Utensils. Leather goods. Whatever she needed could be hers. She walked slowly as befitting her status, her back straight with pride.

She was back.

No longer the barefooted street urchin, begging for leftovers, scurrying from grabby hands while carrying favors for a scrap and a slap.

She was now the wife of a man who owned three stalls on the Souk’s main road. And a whole house. She was the mother of a boy who was never hungry. Umm Faheem, they called her now, in Uduro’s Sudan.

 

 

 

For the What Pegman Saw challenge: Sudan

 

Ablution

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Photo: Ales Krivec on Unsplash: Vintgar, Slovenia

 

The Radovna pooled itself and waited for her ablution. Still. Clear. Shattering in its beauty and perfection.

Everything she was not.

Hers was more the unfettered rush, cutting gorges, collecting all manner of debris, and lugging along tumbled things that poked their heads out of the milky froth of living.

There were no still ponds in her being.

She looked at the icicles suspended from rocks above the freezing water. They were guarding it.

From beings that did not deserve to be cleansed.

Like herself.

Hom and Boršt rose above the gorge, patient and unbending. The beech trees on the slopes, stripped bare for winter, rustled as they waited to witness her own naked skin.

Her eyes lifted to the bridge, though she expected no one on it. The area was closed to tourists in the winter. Only the locals came, alone, to seek absolution in the Radovna’s icy bowl.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Slovenia

 

Just Be Careful

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Photo: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/march-on-washington_n_3825167

 

I knew she was going to D.C. for the 50-year-anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington. She’d been in the original one. And on the Freedom Rides. I was so proud of her. I also couldn’t sleep. I wanted her to go. I just couldn’t rid myself of a nagging worry-worm.

“Just be careful,” I texted.

“XO,” she replied hours later.

I watched the march and President Obama’s speech on TV, a lump in my throat for the path and possibility of this country. I scanned for her in the crowd, echoes of concern in my mind, hoped she wasn’t hurting.

“I’m fine,” she said two days later, “just don’t be alarmed when you see me. I tripped when I got off the bus in D.C. Broke my wrist.”

Apparently she’d wrapped a scarf around her arm and marched. Then traveled many hours home before seeing a doctor. True to form.

 

Adding this clip from that day which stands the test of time in its relevance:

 

 

Note: True story from August 28, 2013.

For What Pegman Saw: Washington D.C.

 

Horse Lord

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Photo: Mongolia; Anudariya Munkhbayar on Unsplash

 

The floods had culled the herd. The fires cleansed the land of dead, returned the grasses to the dirt, where bones lay, staring at the sky, unbleached. They will not be interred.

A falcon soared above their heads. It dove and disappeared, its freedom deferred, its sight hidden under the dark small caps it let have drawn over its vision in a servitude preferred.

The stallion whinnied. The yearlings, cocky and too young to know better, had cantered up ahead. They stopped at the sound of his impatience and turned about as their obedience stirred. But the mares and foals kept close on dancing legs. The smell of smoke still in the air rendered them simultaneously docile and quick to bolt, their reason blurred.

He knew why that was. The two-legged that had fled, have returned. And the smoke curling from the nostrils of their leather dwellings rose, awakening dread.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Mongolia

 

 

Heidi’s Hideout

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Photo:  commons.wikimedia.org

 

It was the last place she thought anyone would look for her.

Or the first. Depends.

If they knew the story of her grandmother, after whom she was named, then they’d surely make a beeline to the cottage. But most people did not know. Or forgot. And she herself hadn’t been particularly good at telling the story that as a child had made her feel bland and timid in comparison to her grandmother’s girlhood bravery and independence, and as an adult made her feel as if she was seeking to gain attention by association and not merit.

So when people asked: “Heidi, like the girl in the story?” she would just nod or shrug or at the most say, “perhaps, eh?”

She let her heritage become a secret.

Perhaps that will end up allowing her fresh air, away from everyone’s demands, at her great-great-grandpa’s ancient yet secluded Maienfeld house.

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Maienfeld, Switzerland

 

A Map Of Reminiscing

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Green Gardens trail in Gros Morne National Park, NL (Timothy Holmes on Unsplash)

 

They’d come to Gros Morne every summer. On “Dad Week.” Camp in a tent that always leaked but Dad wouldn’t replace, every patch and glued seam a map of reminiscing. They’d spend days on the meadows, walk the volcanic beach, go down to Old Man’s Cove.

Sal loved all of it. Even the chill and wet and constant hunger (for there was always more Dad aspired to catch than what he’d actually manage to). Sal never complained. He’d give up everything to breathe the ocean and make up stories about pirates in the coves. He’d even downplay the painful rash and sneezing (they never did find which wild-flower he was allergic to, and he didn’t want to, afraid Mom would say he couldn’t go).

Erosion closed his favorite trail, but not his memories.

He gazed at the ocean and wondered if Dad, whose mind was fading, still had his.

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada