But now she is conspicuous among Lydian women
as sometimes at sunset
the rosyfingered moon
surpasses all the stars. And her light
stretches over salt sea
equally and flowerdeep fields.
Sappho (translated by Anne Carson)
I came back to this place—another salt sea, and flowerdeep fields—to write about us, or the me that has assumed you, and you, and her, and them before, and the skies are stained pink. And the air is pink, and the wall is pink and the water is pink. Nascent, born from union of floating white, derobed blue and fervent red that dares to reach out and touch—flint church, glass, wheat chaff.
Colour is wavelengths. Or more precisely, colour is stunted or long or penetrating lengths of light that we see or we don’t see, as blue, violet, red, orange, each one ascertaining their own lifespan, like the flesh line on the palm of your hand. Blue light is short—it scatters like fractured artillery—collapses into mauve, violet. While red—red’s spectral purity—finds its path and spreads, as if a flower like blood blots on a page.
It is autumn. It is winter. In the east, the air along the path that the sunlight seeks is dryer and cleaner, heaved in and out over the torn cliff-edge and fertile land––flat and broad and limitless. So that a low bloated sun casts its rays. Red tips commune with aerosol mass of Cumulus, Cirrus, Altocumulus and projects something like transcendental ecstasy, spreading in saccharine. And then drains.
I rewatch old TV show credits of a blazing Californian sunset fronted by palm tree cutouts and silhouettes of surfers, montaged with blocks of azul blue sea-sky and images of sailing boats and pool houses and brilliant white SUVs. California here we come, right back where we started from But here California faces east and merges with the sand and shingle of Scratby to the north and Caister-on-Sea to the south, and the land’s edge is puckered with off-white caravans, so that the pink is underscored by a shoal, a field, plastic. While inland, in this quiet room—fabric walls, flint rock vista—it spreads silvery over the roofs and stone crenellations, reaches a dawn peach to rose and later draws down into mauve, pales in lilac.
[The moon is]
Of wavelengths and meaning, and paper horizons, Etel Adnan writes—
Working for years in this direction led me to the suspicion that our mental world is an on ongoing “translation,” that perception is a translating of the object of that perception, and that any thought that we may think to be primordial, spontaneous, is already an interpretation of something which precedes it and may even be of another nature, another “stuff” than thinking itself, a wavelength, an “it” which remains unknown, a translation of this “it” by an active filtering function we call the “mind.”
I translate these wavelengths––that spectral air––into pink and worry that she is a kind of osmosis (of the past) in this assignation, born of Kleos. I watch her creep—rose, vermillion, blush—marking the breaking of day, and coming of night, the copper slant of autumn, the golden renewal of Gregorian revolution. But she chooses her moments; all fleetingness. This grey morning is less a spoke than a reminder that she is not fecund flesh-flake; nor hardened earth, mother earth, stagnant bog, bosom of the home, but a rippling shadow, waning light; ungraspable, shapeshifter. Changing her clothes, all fickleness and layers. My eyes adjust and I gulp her in, sugar-high.
Buy the anthology Field Work: New Nature Writing from East Anglia