Yesterday morning at 3am I returned from a magical trip to the Galápagos Islands. It was everything you could imagine and so much more. I feel grateful, humbled, and inspired by the entire experience. Perhaps I'll say more about it sometime but at the moment I'm riddled with ailments: I caught a cold early on in the trip that is clinging on, there's a constant ringing in my ears, I still have a touch of altitude sickness from Quito and I got food poisoning from a Subway sandwich while on a layover in Panama that has me current writhing in pain. So I'm not quite well for writing. But I threw together a poem while I was there, and I wanted to share it today. It's about sunrises. You could say I'm somewhat of an expert.
Head due east
and go alone
that’s the only such way it can be done
(this is what I tell myself.)
And when the time aligns,
await the creeping, silent, rosy light of your maker.
It happens as assuredly as the rotation of the planet, as surely as its axial tilt:
On each last morning of my coastal stay,
like the ocean is whisper shouting my name,
I awake not so groggy, without alarm, determined, primal,
instructions written in my bones
Like the island isn’t an island but a grand gesture
to hoist me to my feet.
I have learned this much:
If you cannot find the sun before it arises
then you’ll have missed it entirely.
(It’s not the sun that moves after all)
Because a sunrise is most beautiful in the quiet moments before Earth inches past its rays.
The quiet pause, like bated breath, just to show
its beauty in the negative space of anticipation.
Its power is in being seen before dawn breaks,
this and feeding the plants, and scorching the flesh.
So I watch, and I say a small prayer or something
for the tree tops, the wave crests,
the delicate layers that pretend to separate us all.
It is the most ancient, well-rehearsed theatre, endless tickets available, though
I desperately want to believe that she is putting on a show for me alone.
(And look now I've dared to assign her a gender, too.)
Alas, I know she is not, with far better things to do.
But between the click-clicks and the occasional
Titters of birds, the lie sits nicely in my lap.
It is the most incredible lie, I smile to myself
wrapped in the solitude and pleasant air
when a man not unlike me arrives for his due time,
clopping his flip-flops along the splintered dock,
a bald head squarely bobs into my frame,
he lifts his iPhone, he points it, he looks down, he says, "wow."
We have arrived at the comedic portion of Act III, and I realize
Perhaps he and I are quite alike and in fact not the audience after all, but the jesters.
To assume that we could have a single thing outside this sacred body that is just our own is a hilarious joke,
and the pelican looks at me like he knows it.
(And even the body we'll give back in due time).
I nod, the sky now softer,
illuminated in its warm yellow glow,
the delicacy wearing thin to stretch into the harshness of the day ahead.
We will do this again,
I trust it like I trust that there's marrow in my bones,
as we each take our bow.