Absence

 

The sun comes up through haze on the far horizon. Ocean waves burst into happy flame, and a vast river of fire races toward the edge of the continent. There the coastline, dim and soft-edged, awaits it. On the empty beaches, sea wrack lies scattered. In the grassy marshes, tidewater laps against steel-gray mud. Elsewhere dark conifers turn deaf ears to the booming surf, intent as they are upon the approaching blaze. For night still lurks among them, its bony fingers clutching at their trunks.

Then the light arrives. Warmth creeps inland. The air stirs. Above the faint music of the spheres there rises a great hum, steadily increasingly in volume, of life waking to this day, the thrumming of countless creatures resuming their tireless existence. Over them the light washes, banishing the terrors of the night.

 

All the meadows are filled with a sacred gleam. All the hills are bronzed. Upon the rivers and streams swirls an iridescent vapor, a mist shading from violet to gray to gold. It is a daily miracle, this light. It is a miracle of completion, of healing, of promise. It asks nothing and offers everything. After 90 million miles it grazes the jagged edge of a leaf and settles gently on the ground, where it stirs a dormant seed to life. The light is presence, and its lack is absence.

 

Absence, though. In absence there is longing, isn’t there? And longing you can find in the woody cove below a  high mountain ridge, somewhere within which hides a memory of what we lost. Longing is still there in a dark and dusty toolshed, back among the broken pots and rust-eaten iron. There is longing in the chambers of our hearts, too, which no light can reach, unless maybe through our eyes when at dawn we have turned them eastward, in the direction of the sun as it comes up through haze on the far horizon.

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