This one’s on Route 80 south of Water’s End, Arizona, speeding
anywhere else when I’m tired
of reading the yellow dash-and-dash, highway’s old adage.
yellows to reds, though there are none where I look
into the camera.
Behind me, a blur of roadside cactus called
for the moisture they save for years.
The sky cut from indigo to blue to white until
I wished for the sunset’s truncations to stay there,
thinking, too, that the verge of its curve
could flirt me into
Moving on, in Bangkok, I’m always crouching in these,
wanting to keep my head
lower than his
to show I know
he’s Mother’s father.
Asked, on going in, not to say anything
if he brought up the distant
old dealings, metallic shrillings
of long-dead women,
asked to ignore what they’d do for him,
offerings he could almost eat a meal on.
And this from the aunt who was asked to leave
the family when she was young,
“for the sake of the children,”
drawing the bad lot.
No one told me why.
That’s my foot in the foreground.
That was the daylight’s assignment
of unwavering white, the background.
These are only the circumstances. As for an end to the glare
getting the last word in,
there was none.
He’d set the machine on the tripod himself,
return to read the newspaper, wait for the click,
and want to keep it,
the stop-time, that is,
the pretending to read the newspaper.
Held half in the shadow fans of the palm tree,
half in a browbeat of sun.
So that the machine had to catch him quickly, the clarity,
the shot of his legs as
suddenly: brown leather sheaves holding bone.
Say the moment arrives
at the frame, and she who is about to enter
the picture approaches.
At the end of the road trip, she turns back
in the hopes of memorizing what’s been passed,
the colors that changed, the mirror-winks,
the real moisture, invisible, along side mirage.
His face was a once-darker shade of dust in his country.
Some days he’d set the aperture, the opening,
as wide as he could,
to ruin the picture, to let all the light in.