The sun rises. Fire petals light the concrete tangle of bowed buildings pretty in pink. Blaze blooming back up to the sky.
It is hard to sleep when God is at your window and I wake, weary, 5 am reluctant, but awed to come back, to be born back to such a day. I tell myself sleep might just return to me, hide under sheets, but really I know it won’t.
Dreams-eyes rinse off in the bucket and then I’m up-risen, scarf wrapped and out into the dawning.
Cows graze nonchalantly on roundabouts, disregarding barbed wire. The sheep look a little lost. The chickens count claw, scrabbling for secrets, treasures turned up donkey muck. Nervous cats stand sentry, aloof on their upper ground. But I have the streets. This is my line between here and there.
I pick the back ways, dusty inroads into other yawning mornings. Through backdoor gates I see the coloured mattress still stacked with sleepers, bare bummed children squatting in defiance till authority wakes, a tumble of plastic flip-flops fallen friendly and affectionate.
A little boy struts by down the street with all the importance of a man holding the moon – a warm crescent of bread below one arm – but almost drops it for fright at my strangeness. I offer a smile to sooth, with no effect. Back to charm school it seems.
The alleys warm with sunshine. Women swathed in violet waddle out to squat hip-heavy at hot stones, kneading out doughy visions, finger-felt, before them. Bread here is born on sore knees, from stolen sleep. It is love in labour, a beauty beaten forth from mixed up nothing.
They believe it God-gifted and precious to the last crumb and this morning I see it. Something here sustains.
I think of the empty bread-air bought in bags back home feel just a little cheated.
I stop at a shop window, marked out simply by the wind waft of smell and count out a please with fingers to stand for more words I don’t know. The baker breaks into a delighted grin – strange is second only to celebrity – and serves me golden crisp gorgeous delicious wrapped up in yesterday’s news.
I eat it hot, wrapped up in sharp sour strings of cheese and laden with sting-sweet honey.
For this I will rise.