Returning home from the night shift

I cycle east along black roads dusted gold with leaf, directly into the rising sun. The sky bleeds yellow into blue. Whipped-egg-white clouds, peaks smutted with grey, sides gilded cream, float below thin sharp lines of vapour trails converging spoke-like on the hub of the sun.

The silence would be enormous were it not for the birds. A robin, song sweetly anthropomorphised, warbles murder to rivals. Magpies rattle asthmatically in twos and threes among the aerials and chimney pots, shouldering aside garrulous groups of starlings that squawk, whistle and trill. The delicate fluting of blackbirds is almost drowned by the raucous shouting of sparrows once annoying or unnoticed in its universality, silenced and now much loved on its fitful return. I swing out wide to skirt a flock of pigeons cooing as they peck crumbs of crushed crisps from the tarmac.

There is not a single car, lorry, bus, motorbike. No dogs bark. No voices, sirens, music, machinery, footfalls. The air clear, cool and still. In the park each tree in the rank along the iron railing rises from a pool of gold the width of its own black branches.

When I reach my gate I turn. Behind me the vapour trails are bright but wide, diffuse against the deep blue. The moon, waning, blanched and blotched, sinks into yesterday.

4 Replies to “Returning home from the night shift”

  1. How lovely! I am so rarely out at that time of day, but I recognize that rare quality of human silence, just the birds.

  2. Thanks 🙂 It was indeed quite extraordinarily lovely. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I was up extraordinarily early for me. Maybe every morning at that time is as magical.

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