Up before dawn with old songs playing in my head and the planet Venus slowly winking in and out of sight through the leaves of an oak. Great-horned and screech owls call off and on above the horizon notes of night insects, that endless braid. The half-light of the half-moon lends an undersea feeling to things, a glimpse almost of how the world might look without six billion bright-eyed humans to dream it awake.

Feeling a little like a refugee, I sit as always, unmoving, in my accustomed spot. If I shifted my chair on the porch by as little as three inches to the right or left, everything would be thrown off-kilter. To call me a creature of habit would be a vast understatement. But without such stillness and fidelity, how could I mark the changes? The safe vantagepoint is the only one that lasts.

I do allow my imagination to run, old hound, sniffing out the day-old narratives of loss and lust. But it comes to heel when I call; it knows how to listen. From the yard, the scrabbling of claws on bark. Up in the woods, a footfall, an explosive snort. A high-pitched quaver suddenly close at hand.

Astarte, I whisper, preferring this older name for the morning star. Instigator of holy desire, giving the topmost leaves the slip at last! This hour I have spent with one eye on her progress was well worth the loss in sleep.

Stillness, fidelity, and the inner ear: the body’s spirit level, from which alone we can know trajectory and motion. Then, too, one could hardly distinguish figure from ground or find a body’s coordinates in space without that slender string we call memory. Half-conscious of it I’m telling the beads of a thousand other such moments, so slowly does the dawn come, so incrementally do outlines and colors emerge – tall goldenrod, the banks of white snakeroot – and so long does it take for that blazing ember to drown in a sea of light.

This is my contribution to the Ecotone wiki topic Making a Safe Space. See also my essay + translation from April 30 called Man doesn’t exist.

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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