01 February, 2009

Only a Fleeting Thing

[This post, as well as four others from The Pariah's Syntax, was selected by the editors of Meridian, a semi-annual literary journal from the University of Virginia, for publication in their twenty-seventh issue, in May 2011. The other posts to appear in that issue were "Halloween in the Hoosegow," "In Memory of Monuments," "On the Scarcity of Toilet Paper," and "Joe." But just because you can read them here doesn't mean that you shouldn't order a copy from Meridian's website, thereby supporting the kind of publication daring enough to print such writings as these.]
Stepping outside after a visit, I am unprepared for the burst of icy wind that welcomes me back from several hours in another world. My breath actually catches. The shock of cold is one thing, but as I round the wall of the visiting building the scene of a sinking blood orange sun is in its own way breathtaking. It's a lurid panorama: puffs of distant vermilion clouds traced in blues and grays, and, higher, the streaked plum-blacks of atmosphere. Space. But I cannot stop to provide the attention such a sunset sings for; my little trek is timed.

Past the lone guard tower I go, around the softball diamond, and up the walk to the housing unit, ugly and wide — the whole time leaning into the gusts, my ears stinging. From above comes a bubbling commotion that is a quavering line of eastward-listing geese. Just for an instant, but still so intensely that I feel it to the depths of me, I begrudge them the liberty of their wings.