Barely dressed above decency’s minimum in shorts, socks, runners, he hugs himself hushed in intense conversation with an eager next-door neighbour ⸺ his late afternoon jog still flushed crimson on his chest. As I pass by self-compact on the footpath, I notice tucked behind one ear like a stray afterthought one shining ice-white frangipani flower: how they match, whorl to whorl, in that grainy hour of twilight! There are gestures ⸺ MICRO-GESTURES ⸺ which complicate so much for the better all our caricature notions of character, though with age, the uncatalogued repertoire shrinks substantially to a few odd edges of the infinite to haunt us absent-mindedly ⸺ God-sent to challenge timid autobiography. What we know we know for a fact definitely deters but does not prohibit spontaneous occasional ventures into “fiction”: down in the yard at the bottom of the drive, across a line of wind-lashed sheets, I glimpse that play-act; those folds; those shadows; that make-believe . . .
Photograph: 唐人溪流：模糊嘅黃花 Blurred wattle flowers, Chinaman Creek (2020)
I am writing this down, drop by drop, just as it falls from the sky ⸺ a gentle rain, again perhaps the start of a Summer storm.
Faint thunder detonates the distance and growls down mountains, triggering an avalanche of decibels.
Small, unopened sunflowers stare sightless up into the overcast atmosphere, while the heavens’ only sol-bloom shies blind-ed behind dense acres of cloud.
A whole world between words upsets a particle or two here and there of some absolute boundary inscribed in the dust; plummeting water sculpts tear-drop-shaped craters in sand-drifts banked along the road.
Now there is no eagle to stand the sky on end, and no fox to set its dirty orange fire to the gloom.
Suddenly, I am jumped out of my skin: all the fault-lines in my nature are analyzed both with and against the grain by a forked strike of instantaneous X-ray lightning and, almost in the same split-second, thunder deafens (and defines) the length and breadth of my fragile auditory nerves.
Lost in the moment, one large white cockatoo feather twirls ⸺ gloriously ⸺ back to Earth.
Photograph: 澳洲唐人溪：向日葵 Sunflowers, Chinaman Creek, Australia (2020)
Like a scorpion in the bed or a black cockatoo’s rip-needle-shriek, it was the one unsung unmistakeable thing that moment. On the spot for the world’s dew it wrote an introspective national anthem; brass bands of grass and a morning’s full orchestra — these were conjured out of nothing, out of pure atmosphere, by smell. My angles too, they shifted inclination — I no longer leaned the inevitable same way into Sunday. There was — as there had never been before — a twenty-fifth hour, an eighth day of the week, a fifth or sixth addition to the seasons, an unclockable second, a whole new number between one and zero, and here I was, in it — the perfect mint condition — red- or pale-mauve-handed: daphne.
Photograph: 香港維園花市 Flower Market in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong (flickr)