At the foundation, we sit in the kitchen finished a bright luminescent gray. Sameal, fuzzy brown legs curled behind her, sat on the counter leaning against the frame of the open window in a midnight-blue dress made from gaberdine. Smoking habitually, billowing plumes of ash were blown out through the open window, spreading into the low flowing shrubs and the plumb, low cropped emerald grass beyond. As she turned, tapping her cigarette on the ledge, her stiffly starched fabric didn’t move. Both bra straps were fully visible by design and the cut of the dress, framing the splat of her back. An Italian coffee maker clinked periodically as it warmed on the gas stove. The coffee was poured out for two and denied to a third. The little cups were a magnificent imported porcelain, with a thin golden ring brimming the pale cusp. Incense and coffee smoke filled the wide room, flirting with the lofty gardenia breeze floating in. First sips of the bitter sweet. Soft clinks of cuplet on saucer with released exultation. Low sunbeams refracted on the seamless surface of sparkling bone-white quartz, daubing retraced streams of orange and pink into my right eye.
Dropping out of school for the second time, Sameal had returned to Addis to work at her father’s foundation. He died shortly after she’d left London, and a new Prime Minister was elected a week before I would eventually arrive (to which there was no mention). There was no mention of her education either. Rather, the grieving princess presented herself as mildly interested in all. Her focus would mingle just long enough upon a subject before sweeping to the next, moving channel to channel, not in search of a better one, but a different one.
Art? She disliked modern and abstract painting. Twombly? “I could do that!”, she said. He was no doubt overrated by bad poets and bored critics. She was a traditionalist; her favorite rapper was Tupac. Her voice was sweetly gruff and somewhat boyish. Everything was stated with the blunt force of a soliloquy, and your opinion could remain in your throat. She didn’t like European cities. Too quaint. No dirt. “My ideal city has as much mud as marble. It should be like a chocolate box of individual idols and ironies—a scene of surprise and delight, a bricks throw from an inevitable revolution.” She paused to light a fifth cigarette, staring down at the radiant red tip for a few ticks before exhaling from her nose indiscriminately into her cleavage. “London is close to my ideal city, even New York is good I guess. You know, where the grotesque and gorgeous live like waltzing companions. My favorite building in London is this horrendous building with trashy Egyptian ornament, sort hung like souvenirs on a concrete wall. Its really bad (hahaha), but I kind of like it. I don’t remember St Pauls, or Parliament, or anything by Pugin, but ma petit poubelle creeps to mind every so often.”....
Warm sweet guava
slowly drips diluting
the honey hue sky
with a blushing pink
as if poured over a glass spun sphere,
on a Sunday evening
and Ebba and I
are in the passenger side
of an azure blue van
for the voyage
to his mother’s home for the night
where she’ll have a television and a steaming shower;
Handing the adolescence five BR
for the both of us, an extended family and
I hunch in repose as we glide by
and in to the Lafto valleys;
I’d gone to the museum
in the early morning
to refine designs and numbers,
walking room to room to room
languorously flitting through pastiche portraits
done in the previous decade,
their stylisticly painted patinas
lended the air the damp smell of silkscreens,
the shellac still shone on clay.
Aluminum screws don the traditional stool
their imitation familiar from the homes of friends
where they remained in daily use;
My drawn stay here has relapsed
past performances from my adolescence in Utah
acting the strained walk and tenor
of a false Chad;
The museum was as true and sincere
as a chrome vernacular,
murderously burying the past
long before its docile eyes had closed
and had slowly, finished, breathing...