For Papua New Guinea
It seemed to be light outside for hours at night, until the world
outside our screened windows with the slats to direct the
nonexistent breezes was at all once black as a tropical night
can be, without street lamps and headlights. The buzz of the
insects, the chorus of the dogs, that rooster who never knew
the time of day – all these things came out of that darkness,
erupting like invisible lava over the sense already on overload,
due to the confusing nature of this inconceivable country.
Laying on mats on the ground, a thin sheet covering us for
pure nostalgia, we tried to sleep, praying the fan would continue
to spin, spin, spin, all through the night. The fan’s rotation
meant the power was in operation, which also made the closets
glow. An unexpected comfort, our nightly companion and
nightlight were the closets that housed lightbulbs to dry
our continuously damp clothing and towels, always in danger
of mold in the country with 98% humidity for days on end.
The air was thick with moisture, you only had to open your mouth
to drink it in, but our poor cotton t-shirts were drowning.
And so, in the unseeing tropical night, when the palm trees
swished with some imagined wind and the dogs howled in Pidgin,
our dreams were guided by the glow of the closets,
a constant in a world so entirely foreign. Until the power went out.