Dawn, the magnet of life. Take their great eyes,
set in faces pale, evanescent, baroque; inescapably,
the gaze of those eyes was drawn to an iceberg that
floated in the east. It lay on the deeps like a
memorial to time itself. Its cliffs were of a
remembered grey, sombre, stony . . . until the
moment of dawn. Then the ice lit like a distant
As a flower unfolds from its bud, revealing its
voluptuous couchy pinks, the iceberg changed
inward colour. The grey became dove-grey. The
dove-grey turned chalk, turned to a tender pink
wash, all promise.
Between day and night was no severance: their
embrace was not to be prised apart by dawns such
as this. As the sun rose further, as the iceberg,
forgotten by its lamp-bearer, sank back into
gloom, it was not radiance which changed but
sound. The music ceased. Stale inside their satins,
the musicians were stealing home.
The sun was just a point of pleading light, too
far from anywhere to prevail. A pearl tossed into
the sky would have cast more lustre.
The three turned away, he, She, and she. Very
calm, they walked hand in hand upon the edge of
the terrace, where the deep ammonias of the sea
cast reflections like passing thought upon their
'Is it brighter?' she asked, referring to the Sun.
'Brighter than in our childhood,' he replied.
'Brighter than yesterday, even,' She said.
Now that the music of the night was hushed,
the sussurus of ocean and air moved closer,
speaking to them of the whole poignant fulcrum
of existence. Overhead, a seabird sped between
the high arches, coming from nothingness
momentarily into the orbit of civilization before
it disappeared again into the void. At their feet,
a concatenation of waves tossed spume on to
the terrace, where it soon evaporated into
In the three of them moved an intense love for
one another, so that they drew closer and
walked like one. Not only was life short: far
more touchingly, it was cyclic. The leaves that
turned brown and died would spring up verdant
again in many generations' time.
He said, 'We are now so far from apogee.'
She said, 'The sun grows nearer, and nearer
to the Time of Change.'
And she said, 'Our world has its set course -
without a course there is no world.'
Their silence was assent; but inside them,
where things tangible met things intangible,
was a great sense of awe, transcending joy or
sorrow, as they considered the planetary
motions within which their delicate part was
cast. They were the life of their world; but on
this world, all life was a mirror image. Two
types of life - as different, as dependent, as yin
and yang - existed ... yet never met, yet never
held converse, yet could not even breathe the
other's atmosphere. Each type of life existed
only in the death of the other. At the Time of
Change, the centuries of being changed
So She said, 'As a creature of apogee, I
fear . . .'
To which she added, '. . .yet also perforce
love, the creatures of perihelion.'
Which he finished as, 'For they and we
together must form the sleeping and the waking
of one Spirit.'
They paused to look again across the rolling
liquids, as if hoping for sight of that Spirit,
before they made the decision to go inside their
palace. In turning, they cast their united gaze
upon a broad flight of steps which led down
from the terrace into the ocean. That was not
their way to go. Other feet, of different shape
and intent, would walk those steps, when the
terrible Time of Change was past.
The steps were worn, their very grain
obnubilated, as much by centuries as by tread.
Many atmospheres, many oceans, had washed
over them, as the world moved on its attenuated
elliptical course. Small the world was, and a
slave to its lethargic orbit; for in the course of
one year, from the heats of perihelion to the
cools of apogee and back again, not only lives
but generations and whole civilizations
underwent the cycle of birth and decay, birth
As the three looked at those broad steps
leading down into the opaque fluids of the
ocean, they held inside them the knowledge of
what would happen in the spring of the year,
when the sun showed a disc again and Change
overthrew their kind.
Then the oceans would boil away in fury.
The tides would withdraw.
The steps would dry.
The palace - their palace - would be transformed, would stand revealed as merely the top
floor of a mighty pyramid with many floors. The
steps would lead down to the distant ground.
That ground, no longer an ocean bed, lay over
ten kilometres below.
All would be hushed after the storms of
Change, except for the wail of atmosphere with
its new winds.
Then the creatures of perihelion would
muster themselves, and would begin to ascend
the stairs. Under the blaze of the swollen sun,
they would march up to this topmost place. In
their own tongues, with their own gestures, they
would obey their own deities.
Until the autumn came round again.
The three beings took firmer hold of each
other and retired into the palace, to rest, to
sleep, to dream.