Friday, December 07, 2007

Dance (Bhuana Sari, 1993)

We walk on the black pavement, blurry with heat. The nurse and I turn right at a mud path bisecting flooded rice fields. I have been this way before. Pasek's cousin looks up from planting green shoots and raises his eyebrows. We turn left, and the jungle grows silently around us. We walk, and an entire family scoots up the trunk of a coconut palm, and we could drink young coconut juice if we want to. Then on the blacktop again, hot road sticking to our sandals, pass a pool table with young boys squinting at its corners, pockets waiting for the balls.

There is the path, we wouldn't see it if we didn't already know it was there. We turn, brown mud under our feet. Walk and walk past the house with too many children, and the one sister who couldn't have any. Keep walking as the purple sky fills with flying foxes, impossibly large. It is still light out and we are leaning against terraces of green, everywhere we look is green, as if the universe has eliminated all other parts of the spectrum. To escape its uniformity, I remember Memek's teeth, orange from betelnut and kretek cigarettes, sticking out from her gaunt face. She was really beautiful once, Pasek told me, twenty years younger than Bapak, who knew her when she was a child. I didn't believe she was beautiful until the night she felt compelled to show me how she used to dance the legong, many years ago, and youth and lightness and flow came back to her long arms, and I learned by watching just how to dance.

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