Barrio Viejo Autumn

When you get up, the street lamps will still be lit. You will put on a jacket and socks (November to May) or not (May to November) and open your door quietly so the bell you hung there does not ring and wake the neighbors you imagine sleep as lightly as you do and who you know have come home well after midnight again. You will open the screen door, which has a three inch wide gap at the bottom so you keep a rolled up towel there on the floor so mosquitoes and beetles can’t fly in. You will step out, bend down and pick up the towel, unrolling and folding it into a cushion for sitting on the stoop of your stairs and close the screen door again. Tea in hand you will sit down, glasses still inside next to the bed, books too, and you will sit and wait for the sun to appear in the mesquite trees across Stone Avenue.

The other direction and across Simpson in a dirt packed yard a dog will bark. The twenty-year old cat next door who one morning last week woke with a growth on its face that might be cancer or a snake bite will answer with a series of sentences you don’t understand yet recognize as ritual. The sun will lift a little more, and cars will start to speed down Stone. A little more and walkers and runners turn the corner and pass, some waving hello and others not. The sun will lift still a little more but still be among the branches, a divine and unapproachable fruit.

Once the sun crests the tree the rooster two doors down will crow. His horizon line is the tops of these mesquite. The glow must reach his very street in Barrio Viejo, his very eyes, before he lifts his prayer. You for your part will let the yellows and oranges warm your face for some time, how long changes each morning. You will pop back inside to make more tea or start breakfast in the oven or get your glasses and paper or pen, but you come back to it, inviting it to act upon you.

Some days you will imagine the sun solidifies you from the gaseous state in which you wake each day. Other days you will imagine the sun animates you, coloring inside your lines and outside too, redrawing, laying highlights and lowlights. At least one morning you will feel the sun on you like the hands of God, stroking your face or holding a warm hand against your cheek and below your chin. You will wonder how it is you slept through this imperative moment so many times, going through the day without solidity, without hue, without verification.

Your breakfast will be ready and you will go inside to plate it. You will eat it with the sun but then you will, as many of us must, go back inside, put on clothes for the office, find your keys and your lunch and your papers. You will step back out onto the stoop. You will pick up the folded towel, unfold it, roll it up, and put it back on the floor between the door and the screen. You will lock the door and walk off your stoop and toward your car where you will lower the sun visors as you drive east to work. When you arrive you will draw the blinds to reduce reflection on your computer screen. You will eat lunch in the lunchroom with the others so you don’t seem antisocial but you’ll glance out the window at the sun on the tables as often as you can without being impolite. You will, all day long, look forward to the evening when you will sit on your stoop and watch the sun work its way over the Barrio, behind A Mountain, into a deep unseeable horizon, glowing the sky red and orange until it becomes dark enough to turn on the kitchen light to make dinner.