“The Sarong” (Prose Poem)

The dark-skinned woman stands proud at the edge of the dusty rutted wagon path which cuts through the trampled rice field that subsidizes the world of the rich landowner and takes the lives of the hungry poor who become bent and aged from toiling in the flooded fields under the searing sun and away from the protective netting which deters the buzzing mosquitoes. When she poses for the American photographer she wears a western T shirt atop a native hand-blocked sarong with thumbprint-sized designs in traditional black white and red colors which represent evil and ancestral protection and the horrors and triumphs of war. The elegant lady from New York lays her camera on the ground and points to the fabric wrapped around the body of the tall woman then she points to money in her hand but the woman pretends she does not understand and stares blankly at the photographer’s hips which are smaller than those of the native woman and the Mozambican seems to judge them inadequate for a lover of man or bearer of children. Her sarong is old and speaks to the history of her family past and present as her mother and her mother’s mother wore it in the fields and in the hut and used it to swaddle their newborn offspring. She will keep it.

(Written for dVerse Poetics, Open Link Night, Week 131. February 4, 2014.)

This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Poetry, Short Fiction, Short Story and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to “The Sarong” (Prose Poem)

  1. Oh this story I love… how can we think that all is for sale… I recall when I was a young poor student… me and my girlfriend had made walking poles from ash tree. During our moutaintrip we carved ornament on them… primitive, but still a fun thing to do in the evenings…
    After coming home, there was an american lady who commented how nice they were… we thanked, and then she asked “may I buy those”… hmm we still have those walking sticks..

  2. Mary says:

    A very interesting tale of the woman’s pride. She seems to know the value of things beyond their monetary value. She has a sense of herself, her family, her history.

  3. brian miller says:

    some things are not worth selling out to…giving away…to those that come to watch…and take pictures of our living….they can take my image but they can not take my history….

  4. Good for her! Many things are worth more than money, if only we recognize that.


  5. Grace says:

    Yes, keep them and hand them to her children & grandchildren ~ Some things are not just for sale specially when it is attached to family history ~ Enjoyed this prose poem ~

  6. claudia says:

    i’m glad she keeps it…some things are just not for sale as they’re way too interwoven with ourselves and history…

  7. Strong visual images that linger. Dignity and pride. Written as prose poetry without the punctuation is very effective. This woman has already given her life to the “system” that controls her. She doesn’t have to give up her Kanga cloth, a source of personal value to her.

    • vbholmes says:

      Thanks for your comment, Lynne–you’ve spent time in so many interesting spots that you have a personal awareness of tribal values. Have you been to Mozambique?

  8. Only Tanzania and Zanzibar and yes, cultural awareness is not always intuitive with many visitors. Thank God, I don’t act like a stupid, indifferent tourist who feels money can buy their way. In March we’re heading for India for a month and celebrate our 50 anniversary. There’s still some travel left in these aging bones. Love the poem, VB.

  9. atrm61 says:

    Yes,not all things can be bought with money and I loved her contempt/disdain for the American woman’s smaller hips-two world views contrasted so well Vb 🙂

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