The drops of rain pounded like bullets off the tin roof. Their clang echoed within the mudded walls of my room. I sat on my bed reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet. As Charles Wallace rode atop Guadior, the winged unicorn, the rain water seeped through the window sill, the drops congregating in puddles on my room’s floors.
I was in Siquatepeque, Honduras during the wet season. It had been raining for ten hours straight. My feet slipped through the flooded hall of the small, adobe house.
“Feels like I’m swimming in lake Yojoa,” I thought.
“Ben,” Kristina, the mom of the house, called, “Venga.”
Dinner was ready. I joined the family at the kitchen table. Water incased its legs. Lenincito, my eleven year-old roommate, flopped his feet against the tile rhythmically.
“No Lenin!” Sarah, his sister, yelled, angry that her legs were soaked.
Kristina handed me a plate. On it laid two fresh baleadas and some slices of avocado.
“Gracias mamá!” I licked my lips. Kristina was famous for her baleadas.
This summer I found myself in Honduras for six weeks. When I first arrived in Siquatepeque, I asked myself the simple
question: “What on Earth am I doing in Honduras?”
Construction. That was the answer. I was the Construction Intern for Camino Global, a Christian mission organization.
There was only one problem: I knew nothing about construction. As a Writing Center Consultant, my fingers were used to holding pens and pencils, not hammers and screw drivers. Nevertheless, many blisters later, I learned that book readers can also be homebuilders.
But, I also learned that construction is like poetry.
In another book by L’Engle, A Wrinkle In Time, Calvin O’Keefe describes the forms of sonnets. A Shakespearean sonnet is typically fourteen lines, following the rhyme scheme of:
a b a b
c d c d
e f e f
Though these regulations seem to stint the creative process, they actually sustain it. Without form, a poem is like a painting deprived of a canvas. The paint starbursts everywhere, reaching the corners of the earth. Yet it spreads itself thin, revealing not a grand masterpiece, but a poor picture without centrality and reason.
In the same way, a house is comprised of necessary components. Without exact measurements and cuts, the walls collapse,
the floors crack, and the home cannot function properly, which is to provide shelter for a living being.
In a great dance, disorder and order twirl hand in hand. The universe is a poem: from the hundreds of stipulations that hold the planets together in fragile gravitational pulls, to the millions of mysteries mankind doesn’t understand and may never understand, we find ourselves within the realms of black matter, where form and chaos battle, creating beauty.