Sunday, February 4, 2007

Awake at First Light

I've been sick these past days with a fever and cough, which has kept me awake at odd hours. Yesterday, nose clogged and lacking Afrin, I lay in bed staring at the proverbial ceiling as first light rose. It has been near-freezing recently, with damp accentuating the cold.

My fever had subsided in the night, leaving me fatigued but perfectly lucid, and I believe I was simply debating with myself whether to attempt to get out of bed to drink some juice and use the bathroom when something subtle but quite remarkable occurred.

My building, a five-story a brick-and-masonry apartment house from the thirties, suddenly crackled alive with small movements--near-infinitesmal shifts of joist and floor and wall--that were barely audible yet could be heard throughout the structure, as if the world's finest earthquake, of an intensity of 0.000009 on the Richter Scale, had just occurred, though the building had not even twitched, let alone trembled.

Absolutely concurrently, the pigeons that roost in the courtyard outside stirred awake and began to flutter and coo, and the city outside sprang instantaneously to life.

It was a minor miracle, as if the earth itself awoke with a start from its own sleep, some twenty minutes before official dawn, and I considered what had just occurred. I knew sunlight could not have caused the phenomenon, since it was rising so weakly and imperceptibly, and I concluded it must be due to the sun's electromagnetic radiation, which must have just slipped over its own horizon, slightly refracted by the earth's own gravity so that it arrived before dawn, to jolt my building, the pigeons, and the surrounding city to life in a minor, beautifully orchestrated genesis.

I also thought that this must be a phenomenon that appears in folk wisdom, the likes of which you'd find in a farmer's almanac, when "almanack" was still spelled with a "k." Then I also considered that my building's near-flimsy construction--it was built in the depression years and has shockingly thin walls and resonates sound unfortunately well, and it is also mercilessly heated by a central boiler, giving the brick-and-mortar shell a crisp brittleness--made it a rare and perfect instrument to capture the waking tremor of the new day.

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