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The Green Flash

Up among the earthworks my breath grew ragged. I stumbled amongst the dry straw tussocks growing over the dolmens, heaped stones overgrown with grass; more years beneath them than green shoots over them. The sea air came hard into my lungs strewn with the scents of the machair’s wildflowers, purple and blue nod-nodding in the warm gentle wind. At this time of year and in this place the sky never got fully dark, though the sun had all the appearance of setting across the arc of the leaf black sea, bleeding into the clouds coming unhurriedly from America. A blue flame glow burned up the sky, up into the cold of black Heaven. Stars began to shine out at not quite arm’s reach.

Casting out over the sighing grass, the loose sandy soil, the little street of dark houses lit up inside and colouring their neat square gardens through still undrawn curtains. Over the tumbled narrow shore and the waves of blue slate. I stood then on the ancient hill, though not as ancient as the stars and looked over the deep-deep sea though not as deep as abyssal Heaven overhead. But the Iron Age tombs seemed far older to me than those stars, though the stars had scarcely taken a breath since the time a hundred father’s fathers ago had seen them piled up; and the sea’s waves seemed deeper than the cosmos though I had only to drown to travel them all.

I looked out and as I looked there was a green flash, an incandescent emerald shoal erupting from beyond the horizon. A flower unfurling monstrous petals, for an instant outshining the molten line of dusk before it was gone, it was the sun shining through all the breadth and depth of the North Atlantic Ocean.

In the street below, night crept into the gardens.

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