Later and later the birds would begin their morning vocalizations, and he noticed that the sun was now setting earlier, too. It was August, one of his favorite months, because of its inevitable inflection of sorrow. He had never enjoyed school nor particularly cared for being home but the summer's wane touched him, moved him.
He feels it even now as an adult. The rooster's throaty howl, the mourning dove's plaintive mewing, all outside in misty dark. Every fifteen minutes or so he hears a car out on Route 112, almost always leaving town. Growing up, that should have been the music of promise - you can get out of here, you can! - but it too was stained with loss. It was like there was a quota of escapees, and each one leaving that wasn't him was one less chance that the next would be him.
And the clock was ticking. The clock was always ticking.
(He writes) after waking up unable to breathe - a new physical ailment mirroring the predominant one (other than broken bones) of his childhood, the neighborhood asthmatic (though years later he learns that no doctor ever diagnosed him, and still won't). His illnesses - which are different than his injuries - always own a moral, a spiritual component, that no medicine has been able to address. The zafu covered with cat fur, the crucifixes in basement storage. He reads about poetics, its intersection with ecology and ecologically-minded politics, then some more on stump removal.
By then the sun is rising. One can make too much of this - an excess of which he is frequently guilty - but the one constant in his life - his only real practice - has been writing words. It is to that he turns now, exhausted, hardly held up by coffee - not to prayer, or meditation. The twenty sentences are not exactly holy, but he sticks to them. He is bound up in them. He is not going anywhere but in the twenty sentences can at least say he is here.