Through the pane

Weldon Payne


Weldon Payne


Daybreak comes close to being my favorite world, and I also like dawn, daylight, first light.

I have seen daybreak in the mountains with sky opening as though spilling from a cracked egg shell, and I have seen first light skipping on the nervous waves miles from shore.

I have stood with my dad while some kid dipped minnows and counted them into our bucket seconds before it was light enough to see freckles on his face. I have seen barns materialize, suddenly floating in misty pastures, and I have seen through tinted Greyhound glass antelope leaping in first light of western dawn, and I have watched from windows in hospital waiting rooms for some sign that darkness was ending.

I remember the smoky smell of burning pine and the scent of coffee perking and sizzle of fat back frying – Mama standing by her stove at daybreak with spatula in hand as first light of day glistened in ice on the window.

Daybreak embodies hope. It confirms what we believed would come, what we look for, what we hope will follow the night. So long as a new day breaks, life is still flowing, the great machine of universe is yet running. We still are. We can survive the darkest night if daylight is sure to come.

*  * *

And now we are in the evening of another year with sun going down and tiredness in our bones, in bones of humanity, and even civilization seeming to totter on weary legs. For there is much unrest in our world and much suffering and hunger and bitterness and separation. And darkness. It is tempting to forget daylight.

In the darkness one remembers only the swarm of people, the ever widening circle of humanity in what once seemed like a wide and roomy world. Can everyone be fed? In that dark time before morning one thinks of ignorance, of minds imprisoned for no good reason, of lives forever blighted without cause.

In the darkness one thinks of cruelty and violence and insolence and hard-down, vicious meanness and willful neglect, so one tiptoes, mentally, around the ideal of human dignity, human worth, lest that fragile concept shatter against the reality of human degradation.

One imagines in darkness that the long race is ending and, fearfully, inwardly, debates whether there has been any gain. But then … then there is a lightening, a flicker, and yes first light: New day is dawning, a new year is coming. Let us hope again! Let us try again!


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