When Half Spent Was The Night
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and known, without moving the curtain to look outside, that it had started snowing? Maybe you'd had a bad or strange dream, or your child had, or a pet had stepped on your face, or maybe a garbage truck went past or a branch cracked off. Maybe the world wanted to tell you something else.
But sometimes, it only wanted to tell you that: about snow. How? How did you know to stand by for the message? That beautiful sound that is no sound at all — how can we hear it?
Do you lie there in a cave of blankets, lean on the refrigerator door, rest your chin on a spouse's shoulder, point for the baby to see, stand at the window with your hand held just so for a sill-bound cat to spring up precisely under it — do you say, to the sleeping spouse, to the fussing baby, to the cat, to the pickles in the door, to no one, as you check the closest street lamp for a cone of silence and find it there, teeming and cold, do you say things from hymnals, things only hymnals would understand? "Behold," or "lo"? Perhaps an "o," from the time before street lamps.
Do you think that this, this is the year you live in a home with a window seat? Do you look up and down your street to see if it's just you framed by the long rectangle of bathroom light, or conspiring with a dog to smite the fresh backyard powder with galloping joy? Do you hope it is just you? Or do you hope it isn't?
Do you know it isn't?
Do you find yourself humming, editing "Good King Wenceslas" to include thoughts on the morning commute, and some curse words? Do you think about hymnals again as you sing the singing more like breathing into the baby's web-soft hair — about the sadness in the Christmas songs sometimes, how long they had waited for the rose, e'er blooming, the gift that came almost in secret and that they couldn't keep? If Gabriel told Mary that part, outside our hearing — that there are nights that never spend themselves all the way. If Gabriel has ever told that part.
If you're really awake. If you're really alone. If you could just tell one person about the sound with no sound, the resolution of the minor chord that "dispels with glorious splendor / the darkness everywhere," the darkness in which you stand right now, watching the cone of silence, feeling safe and perhaps hopeful. Or perhaps remembering the things you forgot to do yesterday.
Happy birthday, Don. Stay warm out there.
Tags: city living friends September 11th