Who Gets the Sun

I smoked cigarettes on the roof every morning
and stared across the China sea.
I had to turn far
so the thin hungry monsters of The North
would not haunt even the corner of my eye.

When I was bold and looked right at it
(the only way to kill a nightmare)
it didn’t look like hell from where I sat.
Open nature and scattered homes
where they say nobody actually lived.
Hell wouldn’t be scary if nobody lived there –
even with the Devil in charge.

Sometimes a flight of fighters
would rage in mathematical rigor
quitting the coast and holding
close to the lolling swells.
And I knew that if I looked at the news
I would see that someone had cast an unannounced missile –
ballistic bait –
fishing across the imaginary line
that nobody bothered to paint on the waves.

I could sit up there and remember
whole lives ago, when I watched the sun
rise and burn the snow and stone up high
and join the fire of the Autumn
leaves on the Rocky Mountains.
I would know without knowing
and say without saying
that this thing that is going to burn me, too
is the Colorado sun.

But I wasn’t so sure
when I smoked on the roof
and watched the light skip from
isle to isle
stone to stone
whose sun this was.

Would a Korean sun speak enough Chinese
to ask the purple water of the Yellow sea
for permission to press ahead?
Would a Chinese sun speak enough Korean
to tell the North why it might not
shine so bright beyond the torpid Han?

When I watched the sun and the sea
and saw how careful they both tried to be
I remembered Colorado
and I knew without knowing
and said without saying
that this is not the sun of the love songs and the poems.

This is not the same sun
that sets on lovers half a world apart.
This is not the same sun
that shines on bodies under battlements
without a stone to say.

If this same sun rose over screaming leaves
in the Autumn of the hard West
it would not know what to do.

With no languid tides
no rice paddies in rectangular certainty
no black river keeping the beasts at bay
it might lose its way.

4 thoughts on “Who Gets the Sun”

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