Last night I left the blinds pulled up halfway so that the light of morning would wake me. It worked. I stirred and in my mind it was still dark—where am I? "Sister Julia’s, 'room-sitting' while she’s away." What time is it? "Day break." Do I have anything I need to do today? "Only what you want"—I opened my eyes to find that light had already filled the room. The clock read three minutes to six. The sun was slowly ascending, blazing orange light that melted over the lake and into the city. Immediately I pulled on shorts and a t-shirt and went outside.
I did not examine my good mood, I floated on it. Contradictions surfaced. As I entered the park I saw man sleeping on a bench. He had pulled his white shirt over his head. A sign of surrender, or of defiance? Crossing the bridge over the highway, I saw a crumpled guard-rail, a sure sign of disaster. I inhaled these indications of turmoil soberly, mindfully, but joy remained, unvanquished.
It is common to see the reflection of trees in water. In the park, on a path between a small pond and a row of trees, I discovered an uncommon reversal. Wobbling waves of light, the water's reflection, danced low between the branches. Invisible, except by motion, like wind; only it didn’t rustle or whisper, it laughed.
I made my way to the lakeshore and hopped down a series of giant-sized steps, offering a sun salutation to that great golden orb once I reached the bottom. The lip of the lake curled and I winked back. Sunbeams forged a wide path from the horizon to the waters edge; a few small, bold beams climbing up on my shoulder, warming and glowing. This is how I learned that the sun is a jealous star, protective of her offspring. As I walked, she followed and every time I turned toward the east, there she was, glaring.
Duck! A speckled brown mother and her fuzzy, fresh flock. Choppy water scattered their tiny buoyant bodies, but they always bobbed back together. The water was lively and I wondered at the life within it. The beam on my shoulder began to murmur about the magic of the things we call common and suddenly I remembered the dream I lived before waking. A sweet dream in which affection was shared with someone who does not offer it to me in waking life.
Colors were bold—green against brown against blue intercepted by white—shadows long, wind rallying the leaves, trying to out-sing the sound of on-coming traffic. By the time I had looped back to where I had begun, little more than an hour had passed but already things were different. I lingered by the trees that had held the waters reflection; they were empty. The man on the bench was upright now, scowling. My back was to the lake and the sun and I could feel something shifting, slipping. While waiting at a crosswalk I tried to pour the morning’s images into a bucket to carry with me. All that I had was a sieve. I watched the trickling escape of what was and willed myself to release it, redirecting my gaze to what is. The light changed and I walked forward. It was not until I was unlocking the door to Julia’s room that I realized the blazon little sunbeam had absconded with its warmth, leaving me a cold shoulder, still blushing pink.