Treasure Island

Alma Luz Villanueva

(California)

Soft Chaos


'There are two ways to go to the gas chamber,
free or not free.' Jean-Paul Sarte

Soft Chaos

I tie my fractured toe to the toe
next to it- after 8 planes, crazy Bali
traffic,2 lanes become 3,4, even 5,6,
motorcycles pass on both sides,

(I break my toe right in my own front room) ...

when I saw this mess, babies and children,
with no helmets, on motorcycles with their
parents, I was horrified- 7 days later
I climbed on the back of a motorcycle

driven by a woman who'd just given me a
heavenly massage for $4 ($10 tip) , her 4-year-old
daughter in front of her, me in a sarong, all of us
no helmets, young Balinese men yelling,

'Mama mia! ' as we zipped by, my sarong
flapping in the sensuous breeze, at the
corner we're almost hit by a bus, no one
gets angry, upset (no problem) , I'm

left wondering if my mangled body
would be cremated here with a grand
ceremony, or shipped back through
customs like stray baggage- then, I think

of all the people at the World Trade Center
falling falling falling flying, their final
choice, moments of freedom, rather than
wait like a prisoner for the fire to

eat them alive- I wept every
time they played it on CNN, now
I understand, I truly understand
their brief flight (I think I always

did) , but to have seen them
fall fall fall fly changed some
thing in me, some thing that felt safe, certain,
orderly. Now I must embrace the

soft chaos,
brief moments
of freedom,
trust.

Bali, October 2001

Submitted: Sunday, December 01, 2013
Edited: Saturday, May 03, 2014

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Topic(s): freedom

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

I traveled to Bali less than a month after '9/11, ' surrounded by the largest Muslim population in the world...the tiny, so beautiful island of Bali. Trust. This poem is the title poem of my book, 'SOFT CHAOS.' I booked my tickets a year in advance and almost didn't go- one of my sons advised, 'If you don't go, Mom, you're going to be a pain in the ass.'And so, I arrived on my birthday during the Grand Celebration, which happens every ten years...when the Balinese create, dance, sing the world into balance. Trust.

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