I drive into the sunrise. Rear window on defrost, window open, heat on, the lick of bitter coffee still on my lips. Down the road I venture into the glare of a new day. I know from previous mornings that once I near the crest of the hill, near the famine house, that I will encounter a vague outline of a tractor and a stooped figure lifting milk churns over the crooked stone wall. One day, early on, before all of this driving into the sunrise became second nature, I almost crashed into this painting, so dazzled was I by the boldness of early morning sunlight on the windscreen and my abstract thoughts still lost in a semi-slumbered state.
Now I look for this with keen eyes for it is what keeps me going, driving on into what I cannot see. There is a small figure of a man, who, now I know has been doing this for all the years I have lived here and before that. I did not see him because I was hidden in the kitchen making pancakes and bidding farewell to those who left me. Now I leave them behind. This is my gift for leaving.
The stooped figure looks out for me too. Dearest Coley, man of the land knows my little red car. He surely knows my wave, albeit a hazy, foggy sleepy one these mornings. I slow down before the crest and he stands there and attempts to unfurl his gnarled fingers to guide me over the hill. It is feeble but there nonetheless. His black cap tilts in a nonchalant fashion on the side of his head but what more is important to him than getting the milk and feeding the few miserable cows on the back of the field.
Gentle Coley. Dearest man that I leave behind me like tufts of grass caught by Autumn light or the last few starlings on the telephone wires and even the Sumac tree, leaving me before I got to say goodbye.
All the years I spent saying goodbye in Autumn, weeping over the loss, the change. The turning over. I turn now. I say hello to myself. I drive into the sunrise and drive home when it sets. Each is a challenge. Each step is always filled with light and shadows and gnarled fingers pointing the way that say,
don't be afraid,
step up to the plate,
ease your way along,
don't be afraid,
don't be afraid.
And the sun always rises and sets and we move on. Move and keep doing what feels right. What must be done.