Dawn

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Here in the mountains just before dawn, the air is motionless. It feels as if the world has stopped breathing. The first faint blue light comes so quietly over the eastern peaks that nothing is disturbed dawnbelow. Nothing moves. The stalks of the wild grasses stand perfectly still. The branches of the junipers and pinions are poised in the air, waiting. The long night bows to the coming of the day.

Now the dark and the light are intimate. One dissolves into the other like lovers do. Together they’re in awe. Though the dark and the light have touched like this for countless rounds, it’s always new for them. Here in the penumbra where they are not one or the other, they share their secrets; the mystic night tells of its immensity, and the daylight tells of each particular. How they love each other! As their love-play circles the planet, caressing it, blessing it, it is always somewhere, always approaching, always welcoming, always leaving, anointing the world.

Nearby, a coyote lifts her head. And out in the valley, in a farmhouse, a woman draws open the curtains in her children’s bedroom, the sound of the opening curtains meant to wake them. She pauses, looking out east to the blue mountains and the coral light above.

The coyote stretches.

The eldest boy gets up and dresses without speaking. He goes to the kitchen and fills a bucket with water to take out to the shed for his new little goat. He pulls on his boots, his denim jacket, takes the bucket in hand and crosses the yard, the air cool and still.

The coyote looks up. The coral light of the dawn now has gold streaks through it. In the west the last few star-sparks are vanishing. In that moment, whatever it is that rises from the coyote’s heart makes her lift her nose to the sky and sing one long, wavering note.

The boy stops in the middle of the yard, tilts his head. What was that? He stands still, listening. Now he sees the quiet glory in the sky above him. An unexpected feeling comes over him, a feeling he hasn’t felt before but that’s somehow wholly familiar. It’s as if the ground beneath his boots and the pink sky above the barnyard and the electric light from the kitchen window and the shuffling of the cows in the barn and him standing there, bucket in hand, all belong, all at once, together, like in some great loving hymn of home.

The coyote cries out once more. This time the boy recognizes what it is. He tilts his head back and hollers out in answer, Ohwoooo!