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Thirty-Six Hours

I. Sunrise

Honey gold licked through the back van
windows, stuck warm to our clothes
and ran down our sleep-muddled hair,
took the jitters running indigo and itchy
through our veins and turned them
into light. Soft glowing amber
crowned every head with a horizon
of its own.

Maybe it was a blessing,
maybe the emblem of beginnings, rising
neatly at the inception of our journey
as if a marvelous coincidence designed
to soothe our fears and awaken our souls
with promised joy.
Maybe it was just beautiful.

The road flowed along like a golden river
and the tires rumbled like an old song,
and the sky brightened like an unbidden smile
as we drove on and on.

II. Sunset

There's a map on the screens
where you could watch the night move
across the ocean, you could
watch the night

Somewhere above the sea
we crossed the line that separates the
sun from darkness, we crossed
that elusive

You did not know it yet, but
you were a casual time traveler with
sleep truncated, a casual sleeper
traveling through

III. Sunrise

it was different, five thousand feet
in the air. like the dawn broke on that
flat edge and bled all over it,
deep crimsons and phosphorescent
orange almost too close up
and brightly neon to bear.

"my first african sunrise,"
said the man on my right.
mine too,
though the craters and hills beneath
were not african land nor african sea,
but dense gray cloud -
soaking in the day's birthing blood
till it was all innocent white,
and the sky faint blue again.
belonging to no country but the heavens.

lucky me, on the left side of the plane
as we flew south along the night's borders.
across the aisles they leaned over,
craned and cracked their necks
to taste a little of the new morning.
i drank it all up, mouth wide open
and throat aching.

IV. Sunset

Breathe, finally.
The wind can touch your face
at last, its fingers smelling of smoke
and diesel and somehow pride,
or freedom.

Do not close your eyes.
The evening comes with a welcome
of rain, cool and light as the day
prepares to sleep,
but you - you are not dreaming.
The bus is crowded and your
cramped legs are numb,
but the windows are wide open, so
look out at the dimming sky and

You have come so far, so long.
New terrain rattles loud in your sternum,
this old land's way of settling into
your heart, and though
the road seems endless, you know
that rest is near.

You have come so long, so far,
a traveler now with newborn night
sinking into your blood,
as we - the friends, the blessed,
the brothers -
drive on and on.
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