2 September 2003 | Vol. 3, No. 3

Looking at the Sun

We each bought a sweet roll for a dollar

at Ed's. Cecil unrolled his tape measure

and the damn things were exactly a foot square.

The road we worked curled

around the tip of the Alaskan Range

and along the edge of a river thawing

but still frozen, the foaming water slicing

tunnels in blue-layered ice.

Four times a mile we checked the road

noting where it cracked and sagged,

which was almost everywhere.

When we found sun, the mosquitoes flew

high up into the light and dropped

onto us like rain.

We slept under sheets of plastic in the back

of an open-bed truck.

A mosquito was with us and sang,

monotonous, high-pitched and empty.

We were ragged and nineteen,

summer was coming and

we questioned nothing.

We woke looking at the sun.

For a whole season, we worked and drank

and sang and never stopped looking at it.

When the darkness returned to stay,

it was winter's first morning and we ordered sweet rolls

and coffee.

We had mapped a thousand miles of broken highway.

John and Cecil and I

walked to the top of a wave of frozen hills.

Somehow, we knew our lives had more to

do with the silence that rested

so heavily there than with each other.

We were men.

We smoked Marlboros and watched the darkening tundra,

a thing so enormous

we just let our smoke drift out across it.

About the author:

Kevin Conder lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, baby daughter, and a Jack Russell Terrier. He is the author of two books: The Yellow Earth and, the, as yet, unpublished memoir, The Rock Star. His poetry has appeared/will appear in several literary magazines, such as Pedestal Magazine, North American Review, Snow Monkey, and the Pacific Review. Among other jobs, he has taught English to a variety of students from China, Yugoslavia, and Russia while living in Stockholm, Sweden. Kevin holds a BA in Philosophy from UCSB and a MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Kevin Conder at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 3, No. 3, where "Looking at the Sun" ran on September 2, 2003. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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