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The Dawn Fire


Paul Grimsley

She leaned into the heat and shine, her hair alight in the radiance of the woken sun, and she seemed momentarily to have evaporated – to have been absorbed into the dawn fire. I lay in the muted browns of mucky shadow watching her, trying to absorb and feed off the visual magic. Artists would have fallen in love with the light. I was one of those ancient mythical heroes marching in the footsteps of Lugh Iamfota and the other sun gods, growing in strength as old Helios climbed the stairs to the midday apex. She made the sun stronger: she improved its appetite. She improved my appetite.

I was afraid to photograph her for a while and I hadn’t even thought of sketching her likeness. Perhaps – no, definitely – there was a religiosity to our interactions. I thought that to record the moment or translate its essence would be to sully both the event and the memory of it. So the charcoal was mute, the camera shutter never winked its cyclopean eye, and all I had to rely upon were the strings of proteins that caught and encoded the light in that neural net in my paper skull. And perhaps, more than once, one memory reduced another to ashes, but that ash was fertiliser – her presence kept growing in both dream and recollection.

I touched the lips that framed my dumb mouth to those soft petals of hers and I was drowning in the Lethean waters of bliss. I peered into her eyes and I was dragged down deeper. I placed my hand on her perfect breast and her thumping heartbeat hammered me into precious metal that shined briefly and melted in her heat.

For so long circumstance had kept us apart. For so long decency shackled me to the shadows! and made me whisper the poetry of my love only to myself. When I had forgotten nearly all the words of my litany; when my tongue turned to beef jerky that helped me not at all; when muteness threatened to bury me under a landslide of silence forever – that was when she uttered the three word incantation that frees all lovers.

I drew her then. But I do not need to lift another piece of charcoal ever again. The photos are fossilised in the album and can be forgotten. They were props for moments of insecurity. I burned them and from those fires a new universe was born. The light from those early days is what reaches us now. We live by the light of our sun.

I lean into her and she leans into me. We embrace and in the heat and shine of that moment you might be forgiven for thinking that we momentarily evaporated. Two flames lost amidst the dawn fire.

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