Sinthiouroudji.

Holt Mettee - Senegal


February 8, 2017

Thunder in the distance. Far away lightning illuminates the silhouettes of corn fields, silk swirling in the cool moonlit nighttime breeze like after lunch cigarettes.

Baaba an sits on the floor of his room, folding, needing, ringing his prayer beads in his big hands. Looks up, chin towards sky, then down. Forehead to beads in palms. He mouths his prayers behind the turquoise blue mesh and lace curtain hanging in the yellow doorway. Outside, they are braiding hair- twisting curls like Baaba twists his beads. Generations of women are intertwined.

Thunderclouds glow. Someone’s great uncle tunes the radio, cigarette suspended between lips. Knees sprawled in front of the tin mint green door of the faded yellow concrete hut. Ousman grills corn naked except for his jelly sandals. I have heart burn and acne.

The sky seemed so full of color that it was heavy and almost touched the water which was rippling gorgeously due to the warm breeze. The sky was blue with pink and orange clouds that jumped in the water and swam while grayish purple ones sank low, dipping in their lightning toes that appeared to create new stars and toss them into the sky above the mangroves which looked like reflections of the clouds. We got in a blue boat that sat low in the water which was flashing toothy grins at the sky. We wove through mangrove trees and constellations.

Thunder and rain outside. Nene braids Mama’s hair. Baaba plays with Ousmane, giggling with the rain. Lit by flashlight. Ate guava. Danced.

Crickets. Tin doors. Flashlights.

I walked through a rainy season river of grass that wound through mango trees and the sounds of waterfalls and through a red metal gate growing out of nowhere with the grass and warm still water.

Last night Venus was right next to the moon which was low and nothing more than a fingernail clipping in the deep blue. I watched them sink below the trees, drank tea, washed my hair.

Holt Mettee