The still of the waning darkness tiptoes across the wooden floor amidst the living room church lights and the little yowlings of the cats. So do I.
One by one, the lamps are switched, and, lazy things, yawn their light out into the space, giving shadows no shelter. I wander each of their glowing perimeters with uncertain feet dressed in slippers that shuffle and hush a mother’s lullaby: shh, shh, shh — a finger to the lips, a gentle quieting wind through crisp leaves that have long ago fallen.
The light of the street-lamps echoes against the wet rooftops, and smears across the darkened windows of the abandoned factories turned chic lofts, or, in some instances, the windows behind which there is nothing but dust and ghosts of industry.
Cars lope by like lone wolves in the night, turning back to their caves before morning. Some figures stroll or stand about in the shadows, waiting.
My next door neighbor is the city bus terminal, and it emanates a florescent glare to stave off the dark before the morn. You can see brisk legs there, if you look down — passengers with their coffee mugs and budgets; students, mothers, fathers, homeless in their precarious poverty.
Slowly the light comes and the noise, and the leisure goes. A sense of purpose billows out through the air and I feel disheveled, unready — a pulley has been clipped to my ribs and gently tugs: come now, there are things to be done.
The hour is judged by the color of the sky: black, deepest blue, lightening navy that swiftly becomes sky-colored, and the clouds show themselves once more. The passage of time is reflected in swallows of coffee: how empty the cup, what temperature the liquid.
Bells toll in their small belfry down the street; I once told you they stood for my love, every chime a call: I love ____. I love ____. You who still sleep at this time, who welcomes the coming of the dark, while I await its going, and together we take dominion over the day. You who I leave safe to wake with coffee and kisses — I will bring you bundles of new sun like fireflies, and you take in the morning this way, in my handfuls.
I take mine as it would show itself: one singular burst over the rooftops, an overblown explosion popping sparklers through the clouds, and then fading too fast, as the grey blinds come down over the sun and shield the city from golden excess. The splash of warmth roils over the brick where it will rest for a moment, reminiscent of fireplace hearths, and swims speedily on eastward, to comfort other early-wakened souls.
The smokestacks close curtain over the departure and the fading crackles of applause give way to silence. My face is primed and painted, lacquered walls ready for company. The delicious moments of night into morning have passed, and the lamps are left without work, packing their briefcases and totes until the dusk comes, and another shift begins. They rest, darkened things, and unwind their burdens.
And I pick up mine, finessed at last into accepting that the fresh fleeting seconds are gone. I arrange myself, flowers in a crystal vase, open the door, and join my fellow wanderers in daylight.