The Bleak Outlook

Photo: Bleak HouseDawn comes in fits and starts. Tatters of grey cloud hang diagonally across the bottom quarter of the pale sky ahead as I’m driving away from the warmth of home; as the road swings me southward, that ragged hem rises into an ever darker, flatter cloudbank and it seems I’m reversing time as I go. The world gets smokier looking with every mile.

Have I driven all day, already? It looks less like dawn, more like dusk, every minute. A ground fog is rising from the pavement, narrowing the gap with those shredded clouds in a slow, relentless re-closing of the curtains. Approaching the city, I watch the tops of the towers fade into the growing dark and finally disappear, enveloped.

The rain begins. It’s thin and dirty at first, but with every mile I drive, grows denser, heavier. The whole world around me turns to molten lead. I am driving, now, into a contracting twilit vortex that soon enough will pull me undersea, it seems. I’m grateful to be exiting the freeway, exhausted from gripping the wheel and blinded by the bleary flow of rain that has outpaced the windshield wipers’ meager strength.

The exit ramp swings in a slow, wet arc up and over the freeway to take me back in an east-northeast crawl, and suddenly it’s as though the rainstorm has been turned off and dawn restarted. The last miles to work see no more precipitation except for that being shrugged off of the trees, and daylight brightens at every intersection, with every car’s-length I drive, and then with every foot. The office building is sparkling like a freshly scrubbed, dazzling beacon, haloed by the rising sun.

And as I walk through that phalanx of security arches toward the windowless interior where my work awaits, I go from brilliant morning into the dim, unhealthy crepuscule of artificially lighted night.Digital illustration from a photo: Into Each Life

Walking Just So

 

photoOn a cool dark Sunday at dusk, there is time to perambulate the park with a scarf pulled loosely up to cup her ears. The streetlights fizzing on with their dismal orange hum remind her of insects that’ve lived past the end of their season solely by having forgotten to die. The grass turns black as the light falls; its damp makes her stockings wet and makes her aware, as well, of the earthy smell of the grass, the leaves, the soil and even the smoke of someone’s fireplace quite nearby. The walk, though short and brisk and only comprising a modest loop around the park to curl back home, is best because it took her out, away and into something else, so that the return is all the sweeter, landing her at last on the entry rug of familiarity, spun in the soft cocoon of fumes that reach her from the soup kettle waiting, steaming on the stove across the hall.photo montage