Tag Archives: twilight

Starry

Like children, they shoot and fall

Tumbling across the sky

A celestial playground

They slip across the icy dark

The freezing velvet

Wrapping them in a bitter grasp

Like pins of light, with silver thread

They pierce nighttime’s skin

And make it hum with myth and life

They stir inside the arching bowl

Pouring like bright honey

Into a hive of galaxies

Like youthful broods they gather close

To their moonlit mother

A family of constellations

They glitter in twilight’s window

Celestial gems

That hang beyond our outstretched fingers

falling star

Queens of the Night

The ladies who preen in the darkness, who let the evening sift through their fingers like gilded sand are of a singular beauty. They hide in the sky, their eyes reflecting the graceful planets, and watch the constellations pirouette beneath them.

All art mirrors this distant femininity.

The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, written in the late 12th century, is an intoxicating voyage of words that gleam like the claws of a cat.  Its quatrains are full of earthly visions – the sky’s soft breath scintillating the tall grasses…the sultan’s palace shining through a dawn that burns like melted jewels. They roam throughout the profane country, and reach towards the sacred skies.

“Earth could not answer: nor the seas that mourn/In flowering Purple, of their Lord forlorn;/Nor heaven, with those eternal Signs reveal’d/And hidden by the sleeve of Night and Morn”

Edmund Dulac illustrated The Rubaiyat in 1909.  His vision of Night was of a queen that sleeps like a marble effigy, her skin polished and cold.  Her weariness is so intense, yet tender, that she can float throughout countless galaxies without dislodging a single, spinning planet.

Stars rest on her gown like butterflies, and glow in the heavens that sing the gentle monarch to sleep.  Night’s hem tangles in clouds and extends over horizons where it is turned bronze and gold by the sun, smoldering beneath the horizon.  Before her twilight disappears in the heat, the queen impatiently draws up the errant fabric and wraps it around her delicate, decorated feet.

Sleeping Stars

Centuries earlier, another Queen of the Night had appeared.  She wore a robe of stars that pierced her flesh, and a malevolent crown that towered like a black cathedral.  She was bound in swaths of twilight torn from the sky, with a train of subservient constellations trailing after her. She did not only rule the heavens, but cursed them as well, her angry gestures splitting the clouds into lightening, as a master jeweler would cleave a diamond.

Mozart’s creation was vindictive and ruthless, her voice disrupting the twelve signs that glittered about her in astrological contentment.    Her ferocity is expressed in a stairway of octaves, in the key of D:

“Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart;
Death and despair blaze around me!
If Sarastro does not feel the pain of death because of you,
Then you will be my daughter nevermore.”

At the turn of the 20th century, the creative world was poised on the cusp of modern art while still wrapped in the tendrils of Art Nouveau.  During this graceful and confused time, Leon Bakst designed a costume for the Queen of the Night.  His illustration was dainty and white, pierced with lightning rods like an ethereal St. Sebastian.  Panniers of stars balanced at her hips and fountains of light burst from her shoulders like wings.   The scent of pale flowers – those that blossomed only at night – touched her face and stroked her tinted hair.

Decoration From The Sky

This design was to be worn by another Queen of the Night.

The Marchesa Luisa Casati writhed throughout the twilight, harvesting symbols of the occult and astrology from their shadowy fields.  Her fingernails were painted with incense.  She wore pearl necklaces around her child-like waist and snakes – arching obediently – around her neck.  As with all nocturnal animals, her eyes were enormous, and like jungles they glittered with mystery and a frightening, verdant life.

During the day Luisa rested in chambers dressed in black, purring velvet.  She lay on marble floors that ran with streams of black oxide.  During the night, however, she was Queen.  And in 1922, she wore Bakst’s gown.

Mozart’s Marchesa

To those who saw her, she was exotic and lunar, wearing silver tissue and diamante as thin as the sky’s dark and sparkling skin.  Magic prowled in her feline eyes, waiting for the first lurid shimmer of dawn, when they would close once more.

For millennia night has revolved on its axis of hours, on its allotment of time as ruler of the sky.  Its beauties lie within the maelstrom of galaxies spinning like whirlpools; in the darkness that is pierced with a tapestry of planets.  But another beauty also sleeps there.  Should she wake, the stars will tumble from their clouds.   And should she step onto the earth, she would do so as delicately as a mermaid taking her first steps on land.

But before her time is up, she will have returned to her galaxies and tapestries.  And before dawn has denounced her rule, she will be asleep once again in her starry veil of tears.

Her Ethereal Light

Moonlight’s gown melted into the earth, its complex alchemy of the sky nourishing the green circulation of a sleeping country.  She was wrapped in the cold breath of stars and a turquoise swath of twilight – still warm with the memory of the sun in its low horizon lands.

A Final Goodbye

Light bloomed around her like a pale garden – and continued to grow, until it covered entire hemispheres, illuminating latitudes and longitudes.  Moonlight’s pretty dress reflected the galaxies she had left behind:  the radiant fabric was embroidered with their swirling travels, the distant clouds of shining planets.   

As she moved across the dark acres, the silvery fabric winked in the shadows. The gossamer train filled the spaces between the minutiae of the dusky world.  Moonlight progressed slowly, admiring her dress, as it flowed past mountains and fields in textile illumination.

She was so lovely, and wore her ethereal light like a veil that danced from her shoulders.  It filled the air with insubstantial color and rode through the atmosphere like a lush, metallic ocean.  Her footprints traced a luminous path, marking her progress as the evening grew dark and rich.  They filled with light, like shallow lakes, and the gentle waves nudged against the curved shores of dainty insteps.

Moonlight’s nacerous glow swept across the world with a chilly scintillation.  She moved slowly to take in her allotted hours: her lifetime of shadow.  She took the time to look into the sky, the blue clouds, her nocturnal birthplace. And with gratitude she stared into the face of the goddess who released her handmaiden nightly to announce her lunar presence and twilight’s soft departure.

The Moon Went Fishing

A crescent moon, curved like a ship, balanced softly on the currents of the dim sky.  The lunar canvas was gilded with cold, and its waning fragment was bright with winter’s cruel, sharp light.

Clouds smeared the horizon with twilight; fingertips plucked the stars from their night time aerie.  The sun, rebuked, sank beneath the hemispheres, wrapped in a blanket of latitudes and longitudes.  Night had truly arrived, a shadow descending from the heights of the sky’s perfect arc.

As the moon continued its gentle voyage, a single star – spared from the clouds’ harvesting – hung below it.  It seemed to be suspended from the gliding bow, deftly maneuvered at the end of a thread, glistening with the dew that bloomed out of the chilly air.

The Starry Bait

A sparkling bait, it waited in the depths of the murky atmosphere.   Alluring and artful, it was the pearl that once rolled in Phoebe’s palm as she reclined in her citadel beyond the planets. Delicious and distant, it lingered by the tender arc of light.

What did the moon wait for, with its shining lure?  Perhaps galaxies full of fish and dragons were close by, drawn close by their inexorable, swimming orbits.  Perhaps veils of light, the delicate frost of outlying worlds, would wrap themselves around that tempting hook.   

The moon cast its line throughout the night, ready for the nibble and pull of bright, curious victims.  It remained in patient grace until the sun returned, swathed in a bronzed and bloody haze.  Only then did the radiant ship disappear, floating away on dark waves glittering with satellites, to wait for the return of its twilight sport.

Flying Tigers, 1941

The tiger was weary.  All night it had been on the prowl, weaving past the wolves, dogs, bulls, lions and bears that lived in star-like reticence in the black sky.  It forded rivers that spanned galaxies, startling the sleeping dragons whose scales glittered like the brilliants in heaven's parure. 

It had stumbled once or twice, knocking some stars loose from the plush firmament.  Some fell, causing considerable excitement on a planet many light years away.  But some stuck fast in the tiger's hazy bones, a promise of the starry silhouette that was to come.  The tiger tried to shake itself free of the sparkling irritants but was unable to – its cloudy body merely changed shape across the twilight sky.

But now the air was changing color.  Threads of lavender, amber, sapphire and gold glimmered in the vast fabric.  Running from the iridescent light, the tiger found a cloud and wrapped itself in a bed of fog and rain.

For a brief time the tiger slept soundly.  Unfortunately, it snored a little, bending the air currents into angles that the smaller birds found hard to navigate.  Suddently it was awake.  There was a noice – incessant, droning, loud and endless.  The tiger looked:  beneath it, smelling of oil and dirt, was a flock of steel crosses.  It raised a cumulus-swathed claw to bat away the annoyances, but stopped.  On the sides of these metallic bodies were inanimate red jaws and white, arched teeth. 

This was a confusing sight, yes – but familiar too.  So the tiger, out of consideration for these shrill relatives, pulled back its thunderous paw.

And the tiger went back to sleep, to dream of lingering adventures in silent, peaceful skies.

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Asleep And Awake

I don't talk about my dreams very often; to do so would be like taking pictures of your children and showing them to a dubious audience.  So allow me to take out my wallet:

The night before last I dreamt I was in a small house – square, poor, undecorated.  It was located in the desert.  There were others with me and we were waiting for a tidal wave to sweep us from the dusty floor.  The thought of the great hand of the ocean rising above us in the middle of such a dry place didn't strike me as odd.

I peered outside.  There was no wave.  But there was the sky.  It was a sleepy blue, the type of melted watercolor that Parrish used as a backdrop for his maidens and Dulac used as a carpet for his queens to trod upon. 

 

It was as if liquid turquoise and lapis lazuli had poured down the face of the daytime sky, cooling it beneath its delicate, exquisite gradations.

Then I saw the wave:  a pale curl of water on the brow of the horizon.  So I closed the door and continued to wait.  In time the water slowing begain to pour into the house.  And then I woke up.  For some time I remembered that terrible wait and the semi-precious sky.

Much later, during my walk home from work, I thought of my dream again.  Now if I leave at 6PM, or even a little earlier, I stand a chance of seeing the light being subdued by the powerful twilight.  The memory of that confrontation lives on in colors that are rich and exotic.  The battlefield above me was strewn with banners of ruby, bronze, chilly cobalt, nectarine and ice.

I saw those colors in the sky.  I saw a string of brown clouds running like dirty children being called home.  And I had seen that sky before – during the night, with my eyes closed, the harvest of blue growing beyond nerves, bone and blood.  Asleep and awake I was held in its dusky embrace, awash in the blue glacier rain.

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