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  • I am up early — when the day is still just a stain in the sky.

    I leave my bed, put on pants, a shirt, socks, shoes, my coat, have a pee, brush my teeth, drink a glass of water, quickly check email, and scramble down my steps and onto the beach. I hop across the dark sand and over to the hundreds of stairs that snake up the hillside and lead to the cliffs that house my car. I pull out of my spot, put on NPR, and drive ten minutes to the local pool. I am thinking of emails, lawyers, companies, interviews, metrics, stories, ladders, lenses, plans, maps, threads, meetings, flights, fate, the future, travel, and candles in the snow.

    At the swimming pool the parking lot is new so the asphalt underfoot is glistening and moist and has the kind of smell that makes you think of rain. Lap swim closes at 8 and it is almost 7, so I am rushing to get into the water. There is a hobbling man ahead of me, wearing a bulky hooded coat and sneakers, and holding the straps of a white plastic bag, which dangles down around him. He is moving slowly, and doesn’t seem to hear me, and he’s walking in a way that makes it hard to get around him, so I hop up onto the curb to pass him, and my sudden presence startles him.

    He stops moving, and stares at me. His body is still, but his plastic bag still has momentum, so it swings around him like a pendulum, grazing his sweatpanted legs. He looks at me, and I look back at him.

    “I used to be fast,” he says, sadly.

    My mind is in so many places that I don’t really hear these words, so I smile at him reflexively and say, “I guess there is a time and place for everything.”

    But he doesn’t smile back. He just stands there, looking at me sadly. The look of sadness slows me down, and all the other things that were in my head are not in my head anymore, except for one of the things.

    I continue up the ramp, but I don’t go into the building. Instead, I stop and I look at the sky. I put my hand on the railing, which is cold, but not quite cold enough for frost. I stay there for a while until he overtakes me, and goes in through the door, which closes with a BANG behind him.

    I look out at the ocean, where the moon is just a tilting sliver, and the stain of the day is beginning to take over the night, and I think about the arc of the earth, and mercator projections, and how crows fly, and what could be the time and the place for another kind of brightening.
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