by Peter Marcus
A crone standing inside a bamboo kiosk, stirs arroz caldo.
Only faint electric light on the back roads in the Palawan
pre-dawn from the few garages vulcanizing rubber lit
by dim fluorescent tubes. A florid scent unfurls across
the valley and you know yourself as fortunate being
even half-awake among the lolas totting baskets of taro
root to a distant market and young men in blue-jeans
and fake Ray-Bans, dozing in weary reverie of beauty
queens and cock-fight bets that win ten thousand pesos.
Even on this rickety, hard-bench bus, sitting in between
a puking toddler and a voluble veteran unhinged from
years of Ginebra, who reminds you every twenty minutes
of “the greatness of America,” the dawn is the luminous
color of papaya while we travelers of the dreamless hours
are as far as we will ever be from home. Child, little one,
sway—sway back to sleep. Soon the sky will reveal
its torches and the coconut palms suddenly appear on
the horizon, majestic as the columns of the Parthenon
Peter Marcus is a psychology professor and administrator at Elms College in Chicopee, MA. His first book, Dark Square, was published by Pleasure Boat Studio: A Literary Press in 2012. His forthcoming book, Traveling Towards Daylight will be published by Sheep Meadow Press in summer 2019.