Nighttime on the California Delta

My eyes flutter open before sunrise these days.  I stretch and ease myself down to the first floor in the lingering dark.  A kind of numbness grips my mind.  The grinder whirrs.  I lean against the counter til the kettle boils.  Then I wrap my hands around the mug and wait for the heat to reach my soul.

At the other end of my nine-hour day, the car rattles over the broken pavement of the levee road.  In the field below me, a boy lets the leash out farther and farther, skipping behind his pooch.  I pull over to the side and push the lever to park.  When the door opens, a thousand bugs frantically assault my face.

Later, when I’ve talked to a friend in Kansas City and eaten a bowl of rich potato soup, I stand in the yard with my face raised to the darkness.  The night air fills my lungs and seeps into my weary bones.  I wave to a figure strolling past me in the darkness.  Whoever it is tells me to have a good night.  His unseen smile wraps itself around me like a silk shawl.  Three lots down, my neighbor Noah quietly hovers behind of his kids as the boy tries to light a fire.  Noah murmurs in a soft, deep encouraging voice.  An owl hoots overhead.  Out on the river, the egrets settle to sleep.    

It’s the twenty-eighth day of the eighty-second month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

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