Sherri Linn Kline
Dawn Songs: Fall


The unpleasantly cheerful chirping of the little watch in my pillowcase sounds and wakes me. I keep it there so the alarm doesn't wake my lover or my roommate sleeping in the room down the hall. It's about an hour before sunrise, six or so, I wash my face and rummage about for my warm clothes and the old wool blanket that I keep folded at the foot of the bed. Our Maine Coon cat blinks his huge eyes up at me and chirps querulously when I move him. It's an old game that we've been playing since he was a kitten.

He follows me into the dark kitchen, keeping me company in the silent dark as I make coffee and fill a mug. I go out to the old log bench in the corner of our back yard, under the clasped limbs of the old Cedar and Maple trees that shelter it. I sit, wrapped in my blanket, sip the coffee and watch the wet leaves all around me start to gleam in the wan gray light. The canopy over head is thick enough to keep the drizzling slush from falling directly on me.

It's cold, my hip aches where it was broken twenty eight years ago and all of my bones remind me that Michigan is one of the worst places in the US for people with arthritis. I carefully sit my empty cup down and rearrange the blanket around me, tucking my feet up in a half lotus so they are covered.

Some times I wonder why I do it, sit out in all weathers at least twice a week, sometimes five times a week, just to watch the sun rise and greet it with a poem or a prayer. It's something I started doing back in college, during the year I started practicing Shamanism. There have been years where I couldn't, when I was working when the sun rose. Those midnight shifts were lonely, knowing that the sun had come without being greeted and I was in a hospital basement surrounded by pain.

This morning there are distant car sounds and the wind whistling a little through the slats in our fence a little. I meditate on death, anger and being alone. Several of my friends have died this year. I'd always hung out with people older than I and now I'm paying for it. My world is colder now that three more good people are gone from my touch. I think of the people I know who are dancing on the edge. Sunlight, starlight, caring, warmth becomes my focus now.

I have a poem of names, dancers and those who are finished with the dance. They wait quietly in the back of my mind as I sit, my breath a haze in the cold.

I can see the house in the growing light. The garden beds where we dug up the carefully planted lawn that was here eight years ago are calico colored mounds where we have piled all of the raked leaves that we have been able to rake up off our lawn. Next Spring, we'll till under what Winter has made of them and enjoy the tomatoes and beans that they will help make. Our more suburban neighbors were amused when we took a tarp and gathered up their leaves as well, but after all this time, they have learned to accept our eccentricities. The three spindly fruit saplings are bare, and I notice that they've finally gotten large enough to begin trimming. We had enough plums this year for some jam, next year I'll probably be worrying about windfalls drawing bees around where we sit.

The image of a Mandlebrot pattern appears in my mind's eye. Patterns within patterns, each reflecting the whole. I hold it there a moment, looking at its beauty from all sides.

Sunrise. The cloud cover is thick enough that there isn't a noticeable disk, the whole sky is a gleaming silver gray. I stand up and lift a hand to greet it, as I would an old friend I haven't met for ages.

I begin to introduce my friends.