Friday, October 09, 2009

the coming and going of the light

at Big Sur, California, August 2008

Sunset at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA. The thin ribbon of waterfall falling to the beach, in its circular cove, the northern slope covered with pink day-lilies the locals call "naked ladies." A pair of deep blue Stellar's jays work through the lilies, while the sun settles into a pool of gold far out over the ocean, on this cold and cloudless evening.

calm ocean mirror
reflects the setting sun—
the sickle moon

this is the festival of the changing of the light

at the window, the child looks out
at inward dusk, quiet, fading;
from the shoulders of the man
standing on the hillcrest, wings unfurl,
and spread to cover the sky;
the moon glows white
above red smoke sunset clouds,
a button on a crimson sash—

somewhere else, not here,
the moon’s full: a surfer finds his wave
under her fulfilling light,
phosphorescent water nipping anklets
till with board he disappears
under the foaming curl—

another moon, else, greening,
tangible shoulders of the stag
under cedars, head raised to sample
the air for food, shelter, mate,
eyes indistinguishable from shadows,
a heart the shape of muscular rope—

and the light keeps altering,
moon by moon each minute,
seen in the world’s changing,
an altar of violet shadows, each

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Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

That's the problem with words, for so many years Big Sur has simply been the title of a book and nothing more. It had as much meaning to me as Saltcoats would have to you although I've been some pretty decent sunsets from that part of the world myself - and my one and only triple rainbow just up the coast a bit.

(Tell me you've seen a quad-rainbow over the Grand Canyon and I will scream.)

10:08 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

You're right about words.

I've seen several double rainbows, and have photos to prove it. When I lived in Mew Mexico, double rainbows were moderately common. One morning I woke up to fog, backlit by sun, and there was a full-sky fogbow in the air. The storm squalls in the high mountain plateaus are so local, you can often see them coming an hour before they hit; then when they pass, you've got sun already, and so you get beautiful rainbows.

I can believe a quad rainbow might occur over the Grand Canyon, but it must be rare. I've never seen one, so you're safe from screaming.

I have seen rainbows in the mountains, though, where the light was so vivid that the colors in the rainbow were almost TOO intense. You could even see the ultraviolet fringe around the indigo end of the rainbow spectrum. A truly prismatic effect.

10:26 AM  
Blogger John Ettorre said...

Any chance you stopped by that famous EST institute in Big Sur where they famously used to have mass nudity?

3:40 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

If you mean Esalen. it's still there along the coast, on Hwy. 1, a good 30 minutes' drive from anywhere. I've driven by it a few times. It's not a place you just drop into, though; only for appointments and seminars. As far as I know, EST was never associated with Esalen; did they have their own place in Big Sur? At Esalen, which is perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea, they famously conduct massage classes in the nude; or at least they were clothing-optional.

10:37 AM  

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