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Contents Page: December 31, 2010, vol 6 no 4

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Tad Wojnicki

A Day is Born

The night holds Salad Bowl Boulevard in its womb. Palma Drive, busy by day, steeps in sighs. There's a feeling of relief, resting in being. The scream shall come shortly, but this, right now, is magic. Nothing stirs. Even the Bagel Bakery. Not a soul spoils the sighs. The fog puffs the driveway, turning me deaf. Pine trees drip dew, deepening the darkness. Something cracks under my foot. Sounds like a clay pot – a dry magnolia leaf.

a featherling
pushing petals –
spring dawn

I stop, shocked by the crack, and a twitch grabs my nose – the foul of the fields and of the onion bagels – the bakers had beaten me to the daybreak.

I hear my running shoes kick the pavement. Making the corner, I enter the street lights, cocooned in grainy, cold fog. Trees are emerging like huge, mute heads. Just a moment before they scream, I know.

the sound
of wheeling stars
treetop breeze

I jog down the boulevard, sucking in the stench of the young growth, strong enough to choke. Salad Bowl Boulevard smells like a salad bowl. How unspoiled. How pure. How fresh. I got up early, eager to catch the baby. I love it. The sinlessness of it. It makes me feel good all over. And then, during the day, I would feel a tremendous sense of loss.

My heart throbbing, pumping the blood into the muscles and brain, I feel the sweat prickling my skin. When I stop to catch my breath, I realize that now, the night got a heart – my heart.

I start kicking the pavement again. Soon, I'll hit the Hartnell College track. Most times, there's another early riser there already, chugging in the dark, and soon, other joggers, stompers, and jumpers show up. But this morning, I hope, I'll beat everybody to the gate. If I push myself, I may even beat the man with the bulldog.

In seconds, I hear thuds from where my shoes hit the tarmac. I am by myself. I jump for joy. A spasm grips every muscle of my body, forcing my lungs to let out a howl.

The pine trees start taking shape, bulging with soaked fog. I hope to see Fremont Peak above the treetops, but I see nothing – I just feel the fog hitting my face like bags of crushed ice. Across the darkness, on the western sky, I look for Mount Toro. I should be able to see the red light there. This morning, nothing.

dripping fog
the dawn aloud
with owl's hoots

I jog, then walk. Running or walking, I watch the birth of the day. Slowly, the day parts the womb. What was babyish wanes, facts turn ugly. Shadows creep, evildoers pack heat, victims go unsuspecting. A chopper's roar swallows the silence. Is that Clifford Ching spraying the fields with insecticides? Or the Sheriff's anti-marijuana squad on the random surveillance flight?

silent street
a cop car runs
red light

I spend myself and then slow down, watching the day born. One shadow between the trees turns out to be the tip-toeing lady I would later see at the Bagel Bakery, bent over a cup of green tea, breaking a muffin, and pecking at the crumbs. Two other shadows stealing toward the gate past the bleachers turn out to be the man and his bulldog.

valley shadows
the sun rises
slope by slope

Finally, the pine trees emerge and catch the daylight. The magnolia trees, the darkest, follow the pine trees. And then the pines, the magnolias, and the palm trees show in the headlights coming with a scream.

sidewalk breakfast
birds shriek from the bowl
of crisp, hot chips

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