Thursday, September 19, 2013


The morning air is cool and the rusty, corrugated rooftops await, impatiently, the ascendancy of the tropical sun.  In the feeble shade of emerald-leafed tress I sit on decrepit concrete that is also cool, waiting for Angie’s to open for breakfast.
An older man passes by.  He has a silver cross dangling from a string around his bicep.  He is carrying an old bible in one hand and a short, bent metal pipe in the other.  He nods at me and smiles, flashing his few remaining teeth and their gold caps.  His skin has been beaten senseless by the sun and both his gait and his manner are unsteady.
Kaselehlie.” I greet him.  “Kaselehlie.” he replies pleasantly.  “Yairum?”  I ask him how he is doing.  He responds, “Gelial.”   He is feeling strong this morning.  He asks me if I know Pohnpeian.  I confess that I do not.  He assures me that it is easier than English.  I promise him that I will learn more. 
A promise to a stranger.  Will I keep that promise?  I do not know.  My past is full of kept promises and broken promises - and of forgotten promises too I’m sure.  And how many promises have I broken over all theses years anyhow?  Promises of love and promises of return.  Promises to change and promises not to change.  Promises of glory and promises of prosperity.  Promises to myself and promises to the moon.
But it’s not always my fault you understand - sometimes Life breaks promises for us and makes them seem tenuous and sometimes even ridiculous.
The man smiles once more and wanders off into the middle of the street and shouts “Good morning!” at a passing car as it swerves violently to avoid running into him.  Then he shouts again to no one in particular this time or maybe it was to a passing cloud.  I don’t know but it seems I have made a promise to a crazy person.  Well, crazier than myself anyway.  Yet still – a promise is a promise.  I’ll do what I can.
- Just a peasant
Photo of some cool shade on Pohnpei