Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Sunrise tantalize evil eyes hypnotize: that is the morning..."

Every morning between 5:30 and 6:00 I wake up and wander into the living room to do a series of exercises—stretching and tai chi, mostly—that keep the arthritis that lives in my body at bay. During the summer, the sun is already up when I awake, but during what passes for "winter" in Hawaii, the sun is just rising when I am halfway through my exercise routine. The other day I paused between exercises to take this picture from my lanai, looking past the palms trees in front of our condo and out over the Punahou campus at the sun rising over the mountains framing Manoa Valley.

I've recently been working on a series of poems with epigraphs taken from songs I am listening to. This one is elaborates on the view from the same location as in the picture, but on a different day and a little later in the morning.

On the Lanai

In the morning when I wake up and listen to the sound
Of the birds outside on the roof
I try to ignore what the paper says
And I try not to read all the news
- Neil Young

Sun so bright I have to squint
to read Zagajewski’s Without End.
The cars roll down Punahou Street
with a sound like the long exhaled breath
of meditation. In the monkeypod trees
birds flit and chitter. Deep in conversation,
a man and a woman jog down the street,
arms waving. In front of the Bingham gate
a man in an aloha shirt, paces back and forth,
cell phone to his ear, shaking his head.
A dove alights on the landing and peers in
at me, twisting and turning his neck,
then retreats to the fronds of a nearby palm.
The bank of cumulus clouds over Tantalus
unravels into wisps in the blue sky over Kaimuki.
Overhead, a plane thrums toward the Ko’olaus.

(In case you were wondering: the title of this post is the first sentence that Adah speaks as a narrator in The Poisonwood Bible.)

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