the last breath of mist sheds itself
in the yellow river,
trees decorate themselves
in the shadows of trees,
your eyes are painted in sunrise.
long narrow boats along the waterfront
hold tight to their moorings,
seduced all night by riverflow
and the promise of more dangerous waters,
your body seems less naked
in the light.
in the morning, youth succumbs to an ancient truth:
you wipe a last kiss
on the back of your hand,
dress yourself again
with thoughts of undress
and the whirr of african birdsongs.
the town wakes around you in a heat
diminishing in distant places,
while an old dog on daily rounds
of bakers and butchers
maps out hours of longing.
and then there is this august dervish,
a flood of light absorbed by evening.
you set candles by a window
to remind boatpeople of the darkness,
to confine dreams close to shore,
like beads of sweat
falling down your brown skin.
the old dog sleeps by the door,
content with passing breezes
and the river’s voice against long narrow boats.
through all of your dreams
you wait most of the night for sleep.