The Sun Setting

A prose poem first published in WEIRDMONGER (Prime Books 2003) —

48F2F83E-78F7-4C61-A0BD-855BA4EE6972The lake was darker than the deepest sleep. I could still sense the horizon, though, while I or someone like me stood on the water’s edge: sensing that the tideless ripples were louder because it was night and there were less distractions. There were several others, awake or asleep, I wasn’t sure, who stood ranked along the edge: as if waiting for the glorious moment of waking or sunrise whichever came first. A sense of awe. A greater sense of suspense. A sense of sense. It was difficult to express even the simplest sense of all. Meanings lost touch with reality. Whilst thoughts regained reality piecemeal, during the process: a rim of screaming orange slowly worming across the already known horizon of utter darkness. Then the sun ineluctably inched upward, a slowworm, an inchworm, a wormhole of blinding iritis of the eye: sloe gin, searing cocktail of the senses, gingerly ratcheting into focus: half up now, almost three-quarters: as the lake became a sheen of fire; I or someone like me, almost fully awake, turned to see the other watchers of the lake, standing to attention, saluting the sun or, rather, shading their eyes from the sun with their hands: they could almost see the veins under the flesh by looking at the sun through themselves: I recognised one or two of the watchers: friends, relations, enemies even. There was not a single stranger. We were all bleary eyed, squinting, shambling, shuffling, a slow-motion locomotion nearer the lake’s edge, as if in some wildly lethargic attempt to summon the sun to ourselves, gathering it to our bosom. I or someone like me closed one eye. It was like winking. Acknowledging the presence of a life-giving force: after all, the sun gave us life, and we needed to return the favour. Exchange blessings with the most sacred powerhouse of God and Mystery. If God it were. Only representatives knew whom they represented. And the sun could not speak, could not be killed for the message it brought, could not accept blame or praise. Slowly now, far more slowly than we could imagine by wading through the margins of water with which the lake ruffled our bare feet towards its blistering furnace, the sun appeared to engorge as the horizon finally released its lower arc of corona. And nigh filled the sky. I or someone like me held hands with my neighbour, and he or someone like him took hold of his neighbour and she or someone like her took hold of her neighbour … as we walked deeper into the lake. And slowly, so very slowly, watched ourselves as our lives passed before our eyes as if we had actually lived such events in the course of some unspoken reality. The worm drowned. As heads inched beneath the silken smoothness of sparkling fire, it was as if each head was its own sun setting. Some of us or some people like us decided to linger to see the real thing.

2 thoughts on “The Sun Setting

  1. From my director’s cut review in 2009 of the whole book here:

    — “This is one of the few works that was first published in the ‘Weirdmonger’ book. Strangely, it is the only story that is out of alphabetical order (as you will see). Perhaps a red-herring in a ‘whodunnit’ or ‘isitreallyanovel?’ novel. It is also, I believe, the shortest piece in the book. About a lake (the lake in ‘Egnis’?) A genuine prose poem, as opposed to a story. I shall break some more reviewing ground by making my review of this piece the whole piece itself from beginning to end:…”

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