The Poetry of Mary K. O'Melveny

AFRICAN SUNSETS




I.

 

My camera’s memory cards

radiate with vivid imprints.

No edits can erase them.

They are hot to my touch, rays

still transmitting images.

 

As a sinking sun dips to

lick our world’s watery edges,

it is the slide that is addictive.

A greedy sky canvas caresses

each luminous taste of gold.

 

Mark Rothko has arrived here.

He takes up his easels and brushes,

mixes up colors like a stew,

sweet and salty, dark and light.

Orange emits Yellow, Red.

 

“Liquid Sunshine” means something

new in Chobe’s waters 

on the Lower Zambizi river.

A bright ball of light oozes out,

leaks over everything,

 

spreads into the wake

of our fragile boats.

Our glassy waves heat, 

then cool down as it widens,

as land and sea go blind in light.

 

Sunsets do not condone 

complacency.  Night arrives

only after a fiery ending. 

Rothko’s canvas is luminous. 

We embrace its heat, as we

prepare for colder, cloudier times.

 

II.

 

As the sun marks our ever-turning world

with its fingerprints, it never casts 

the same glow twice.  Even now, 

as our boat cuts through light scattered

on water like fluorescent snowflakes,

 

shorebirds rustle in reddening 

weeds.  Its burnished strands of yellow

filter through, then fade to mauve,

then pale blue grey haze.  Heat lingers on

like a “sundowner’s” heady buzz.                                                                                                                   

One wonders how such fire 

has not liquefied gold and platinum,

vaporized diamonds and lead

lying in wait below earth’s surface.

We would have to evacuate.

 

That raging flow of magma

would run thicker than the bloodshed

spilled out over centuries

of efforts to claim such riches,

washing everything away in its path.

 

Instead, we sit hushed as white

cloud edges singe and darken.

Burning light erupts 

like VanGogh’s Starry Night.

Passions rage, then quiet.  

 

The glory here is pure.

Even a simple fisherman

can savor it.  Supernatural fanfare

sets the world alight.  Every 

shadowed soul can partake.

                                                            

 

Botswana

*Sundowner, a term first popularized by British Colonials, refers to 

an alcoholic drink typically enjoyed around sundown, after the work day has ended.

                                    

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