Sunday, November 05, 2006

In our time

A bonfire on a bare hill, whipped high by the wind. High clouds and a moon with no mercy. In the shadows apart from the blaze, scattered voices, a tongue now known to no one, rapid steps, then nothing but chill. The scuttle of dry leaves blown over hard earth.

In the cities the rain is falling harder now, as the cars wait for the lights to change to green, the rubber blades working furiously against the flood. Beyond the iron railing the sycamores stand like giant bones. A woman shuts the taxi's door, a white umbrella in her hand, and hurries off.

The traveller sees the belfry in the distance below and heads in that direction. Around his neck is a double horn, one bell facing either way. The shepherds far across the slope stand and watch as he descends, but do not wave. His heavy boots leave a trail of crushed acorns, pale and sour-smelling among their broken shells.

The woman looks out the window from the room over the bar. Her worn white robe wrapped around her, she listens to the buzz of the neon sign across the street. Its garish green has summoned an insect from the reeds along the shore. It swoops and rises in rapid figure eights, bumping its wings against the glass.

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