I COULD say I write when it is still dark outside, too dark to see the weeds grown rampant, the lithe forms I imagine surging under cover to stake out and pounce on some small life the cats will toy with until it expires, a corpse they will pass and cross and ignore without twitching a tail in the stark morning’s judgment.
But I would be lying. I wake because every year’s ending, when the dark stretches longer and claims dominion over the light, shortens my rest and wakes me, unrested, wondering which work to resume, only to leave the question unanswered to confront the sun’s late ascent.
Though, with the light, comes many distractions. Below my window, spinning for days, a black spider ponders before moving one of her eight legs. It takes her a while to think, move, think, and move those needle-like legs, trembling in the wind that shakes the leaves of the plant she has chosen for weaving her web.
Yet, for all her ruminations, I can see the filaments of her gossamer musings shimmer in the light. When she settles under a leaf, I wonder at her seamless slipping from industry to quietude.
How can she wait? What else can beast or person do but endure waiting? In the still dark mornings, after my eyes open and slowly map out our bedroom from memory, I try to grasp something in my mind but it always slips away before I can trace its outlines.
These blue hours before light breaks like a seam in the horizon can be a strain. An acquaintance recently went home, complained he was tired, and went to bed. When his wife woke up, she found him lying on the floor, dead.
Not too long ago, a friend’s mother could not wake him up the morning after. I thought he would be in the office when we came back from a one-day holiday, reeling out another anecdote while we marked end-of-term papers. He was not.
That acquaintance had planned to drop by our home for an after-dinner chat. Our schedules didn’t match so we postponed. The beer could stay chilled in the fridge until he came, I thought. He will not.
There is a sleeping disorder that affects many people. In sleep apnea, there is an interval when one ceases to breathe. A sleep disorder specialist I interviewed showed me a room full of gadgets to diagnose and treat this condition, which can be life-threatening.
The specialist said that instead of surgery or an expensive gadget, a companion can sleep with you. Attuned to your breathing, she or he can shake you awake when you skip breathing.
In the still blue dawn, when I wake up, the thing that eludes, that escapes as soon as I start thinking about it, is the one thing I take for granted in the day’s distractions, in the fray: each breath I take.