top of page

Dawn Magic

I walk out the door early in the morning, the sun just up or not even quite, and that overnight air always smells as though night has some quality that doesn’t want to let go, and hangs on as long as it can, though that’s only for an hour or so before the daytime overwhelms it. There’s also often a nightish chill component. That night air lingering after sunrise needs a name, some word that probably exists in another language, maybe an aboriginal tongue much closer to the earth and sky than English. Let’s name it the Warlpiri word, mungalyurru. That sounds like it could work magic, and on me it does. It conjures other timeplaces — not particularly dawns, but some timeplace of day or night long ago. This morning, for example, the mungalyurru hit me with Los Angeles, 1970, lonesome me walking unknown on unfamiliar streets, an evening a little too cool, but also a downtown pawnshop noonday with a dusty, none-too-friendly sun warming the smell of comfortably greasy food. In that time, I had no place to sleep, no car, just maybe enough money for cigarettes. I had no home, because I had aged out of my childhood one, just barely, and I had bolted. In L.A. I felt lost, exhilarated. My heart was broken, but in those days every experience was cloaked in the sureness that most of my life lay before me. Whatever I did then, there was time to do more, to do other, to do better later. And that was the part of the mungalyurru this morning that contrasted so sharply to the knowledge in which I’m cloaked now.

bottom of page