It’s there and it’s gone. Another few seconds of sunlight and the shape will shift. A blink of cloud cover and the sparkle will disappear.
A vermillion and lemon ocean froth for just an instant, a stream of reflected sunrise. Swaths of roiling sea smoke part to reveal an abandoned island before sealing it off again. Spring sunlight gives the illusion of dancing streamers in pastel hues. Clouds gather into a perfect arch that just as quickly collapses into a fiery phoenix.
You might glance just so, shifting your peripheral vision so you notice the fleeting presence of a brilliantly camouflaged moth and a jewel-colored fly on a plant’s undulating green and rust hills. You look again and they’re gone.
Or it’s there and then it’s not . . . but it’s never gone.
“I drove her out to college, drove back to an empty space, thinking back to when she was a baby, trying hard to see that face . . . .”
Your children’s faces as infants and toddlers, the timbre of your spouse’s voice, the blur of your daughter as she dances on stage. A leaping sting ray, the scent of sun-kissed linen in hospital room soap, the eyes of someone you love who is in pain. Crystals of a first snow melting on an exuberant puppy’s nose, the last low notes of a funeral hymn fading out. A patch of rainbow sky in winter, the white walls of the windowless room where you received heart-scarring news.
“All these stories buried out here, they’re calling to me, like the earthquakes in California, like the hills back in Tennessee…”
Beautiful and terrible things, both ephemeral and, in their way, eternal.