August 1, 2017
Upstate New York, USA
All night there have been cricket sounds in the field. Now they stop. A stillness touches everything, like when a conductor raises his baton and the orchestra goes silent. Dawn begins, pale blue, coral, faint gold. The first solitary birdsong sails up, and then others from here and there join as the last stars vanish. A great expectancy fills the air. Finally, suddenly, a brilliance pierces the edge of the hill, and without hurry the sun lifts above it. Down at the edge of the field where blackberries make a tangle of stems and thorns, a young rabbit sits quietly, only her nose twitching as she breathes in the smells of the morning. She watches as the faraway sun enters a dewdrop on a blade of grass. Inside her body her little heart beats unnoticed.
In the hospital the old man lies in his bed, his head turned toward the window. His breathing is shallow. He can see the top branches of a tree and the pale blue of the dawn sky beyond them. He waits quietly, without waiting for anything. Now the first piece of sunlight touches the window frame. He watches as it slowly stretches across the wall. The man’s disappointment with how things have turned out drifts away. He feels himself becoming lighter, buoyant, as if he is being held by something greater than gravity.
Hill Tribe village, Thailand
The twelve year-old girl lifts the bucket slowly from behind the sack of grain so it doesn’t wake anyone. Her little body knows how to move through the crowded space of the hut without disturbing her sleeping family, stepping carefully between the different sounds of their breathing. Once outside and free of the porch and its two steps, she moves lightly down the path, swinging the bucket as if it was her little brother’s hand. Then at the creek she bends to fill it and, looking up, sees the first white spark of sunlight through the trees, watching her.
Near Hyderabad, India
In the gray light before sunrise the young man waits with the other laborers on the platform as the heavy train to Hyderabad hisses into the station and comes to a stop. Like every morning, the train is already full, men and women leaning out from the windows and doors, holding on. He climbs up the rungs at the back of a car and sits on the roof with a dozen others. The train lurches and pulls itself out of the station. This is the part of the day he likes the best, nothing to carry, the wind on his face, watching the mist on the paddies turn golden as the first sunlight spreads down the valley. The train clatters along, carrying his quiet eyes to a day of work.
The woman wakes before he does, the dawn light pale on the ceiling. She feels happy without knowing that’s what she's feeling. She turns on her side and from under the sheets comes the faint smell of their lovemaking still on her skin. She lies still, watching how the first beam of sunlight from the window makes mountain ranges and valleys on the rumpled sheets. She imagines herself finding her way among them, like a pilgrim.