After Cid Corman
things that come
Morning, March first…have you
noticed how sky lets time imagine limits,
and other fierceness run through
to implosion, never interfering,
never leaving, always holding
without holding back ?
One of these naps
will likely be the last.
Others will know,
but to be bothered by that
you have to be there.
Fathomless for us, this lack
of impatience—work, wait, listen—
work, wait, listen—the woodpecker,
for whatever is there.
San Francisco to South Africa
We’ve been in the air since yesterday,
heading toward tomorrow—three days
breathed in space for one.
Why do they call it jet “lag”?
Call to prayer
Many wonderful things might be said
of sunrise in Africa. But silence
does it so well.
On the Zambezi, downstream waterfalls
give rise to brushed orange moon light
and shadowed banks. King-fishers
glide the darkened surface
in the way they do,
and we do too.
Before being discovered, Victoria Falls
was called “Smoke That Thunders.”
Some still think of it this way.
A mile wide, 340 ft. deep, continuous
plumes and clouds of river mist
make rains that fall up
into winds that caress the skin wet.
You could say there shouldn’t be
a rain forrest in arid country
Thunder and Smoke say otherwise.
In dry years the Chobe River contributes
all it has to the Zambezi—in times of plenty,
the Zambezi turns its abundance back
into the Chobe, changing its direction,
refreshing that which will be returned
to the Zambezi again, when conditions
The indigenous people here
do not know “ownership.”
Need alone determines possession,
until another’s need.
Finding Orion lying on his side,
I remember I’m in the southern hemisphere,
figure he’ll regain his footing
upon returning north.
Namib Desert, Namibia 3/18
“Namib” means vast, open, continuous desert flows
from Botswana through Namibia and into South Africa,
uniform grains of sands of differing shades of orange
and beige and outright rust, blown drifting sweeps
and pyramid dunes, right to Atlantic’s edge,
and then some. We do not intrude here,
anymore than the dune lark, who in all the world is found
only here, in the heat and dry of an ocean of sands
that ripple and spill from every press of any foot,
then pool over to recover each track for its own.
It’s the things we bring, the things we leave behind
that survive, preserved by air and heat for posterity,
blatant evidence in every discard, every scrap.
Our guide says desert is details.
Cape Town’s Table Mountain
forgoes the first fall of sunlight
for the company of gathering clouds—
silent sentinels for vulnerable beginnings.
The first long sleep in weeks
and sunlit blinds seep light that slips
in streams that trace the walls
in silent pursuit of shadow.
Cape Town’s Nobel Square
hosts sculpted likenesses of four
South African recipients
from just the last thirty years,
joined today by a young musician
playing multiple instruments
for gathering crowds:
playing while recording himself playing,
then accompanying his own recording
in singularly live performance,
wave after wave of movements
of self-taught appreciation
given such insistent vision
you have to listen
and watch very closely
to understand what you are hearing.
There’s no manual for Nobel work either.
We stay a week in the “Bowl” of Cape Town,
residential-commercial mix, walking distance
to the civic center, botanical gardens, library,
museums, restaurants, all within easy sight
of Table Mountain and surrounding waters,
in a two-floor, two room flat,
open at the back
to a cobbled courtyard, a table,
two chairs and wilted vines,
surrounded by neighboring homes
that hover this morning under overcast skies
rippling classical piano
notes of narrative hours of heart-beat marks
where breath follows sounded moments
of unlabored quietude.