A Sunset Observed; or, On the Familiar Fade of Vesper Lights

By Will Watson / July 2017

Here is the sunset.

I sit and watch the fading trace of a pale blue dome behind feathery clouds form into streaked golden arms of dusty and bright flames, all still wholly lit as the white-hot star, tinged meadow-gold like the goldenrod Crayolas we all used to fight over, melts behind an empty brick house that stands against the wooded horizon and hills to my west. It happens so quickly. Next comes the pink dance of the earthbound dust that hovers amongst all that lives. We know this dust well: it can be seen when the sun’s infinite beam handles its way through a kitchen window, strong enough to castthe smallest shadows on swirling particles we never would otherwise see. But this dust is out there above the trees, too, and it slows the advance of the white and drawing vesper lights as they bend through the air and gives rise to a pink and purple swell, rising Godward and falling meward, and twisting and moving through the blackening trees, blacker now to me since the sun-source has stumbled behind them, and the sky becomes paler as it descends to a slack green ahead of its coming divide. My east puts forth the reaching stars while the west burns toward a pearly ivory, and the distant black silhouettes of pine trees reach upward into the remaining dimness of day. I have no reserve saying that there is a divide; evening does not so much fade to night, but rather night approaches from my east and floats in its echoing, buzzing strings toward the western horizon where all sky is ultimately united in blackness, and as dots of iced starlight drizzle forward to meet me as I gaze.

Julianne’s Sunset. This was right after her half-birthday on March 16, 2017. We sent lanterns to her with messages of love.


And it is beneath this blackness – blanketing or opaque depending on its moon – that I muse about gravity and the ripple the earth and sun cause in space and time, causing chunks of space to spiral around us, falling butnever arriving. I know it is mass that creates this wild swirl, and those massive enough can even swirl time and light beneath the realm of knowing. Permanence.

And I must wonder how I, too, bend space and time selfward. Am I not mass? And do I bend light around my own being? And all that has ever been or happend regarding me, could it have been by virtue of my own intrinsic bend?

Who knows what part any of us play beneath this heavy sky. But the evening reminds me that the same colors and cloud dances and white specks of starlight and objects of black mass and the pulsing sun will meet me tomorrow, and I will welcome them.

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  • Charlene

    …rising Godward, and twisting meward….Love this!