Abraham's Plateau by Davis Morton

ABRAHAM'S PLATEAU / 2002 / oil on canvas / 19" x 27"... Read a painting comment below...

     Down in the Rift Valley with some soldiers, the driver was the only one who spoke any English. Driving through the desert and along a narrow crevice road, there were no guide rails to block the view of Ethiopian tanks that had fallen from the road and looked like broken toys a hundred feet below. Small villages were many miles and hours apart  And as we'd approach each one, Habtom would look at me with the expression of a person who was giving an important gift. "David... coffee ceremony."
     I would always look delighted, but I was always thinking, "Oh God, not again." In a one-room hut or tent, a woman would take a small cement oven from beneath her bed. She would use a stone to crush coffee beans, and with a goat tail she would waft the aroma of the cooking coffee toward her guest. Then she'd serve us popcorn, as we would smile and slowly sip the coffee.
     They say the Rift Valley is where we all came from. So if Habtom was here, what ceremony could I show him? As a person who sincerely celebrates the value of simplicity, would Habtom be envious of what we value most? Or would he also be thinking, "Oh God, not again," if I tried to please him with our endless barrage of empty entertainment?