Friday, August 31


Something still eluded him, though now, with time running out, he thought he had almost got it. Soon dawn would come, and with it would go this hush, this cool luminosity coming through stillness. It was like sitting in the calm centre of the world, he thought, this total balance between the world and its mirror image, water and sky. He was conscious of fragility, as though he was sitting in the middle of an aquamarine bubble. That's it, he thought, as his intent eye caught a line of dark blue shadow where the river met, not sky, but its own reflected shadow.

But the light was changing now, and it was time to give up on this particular canvas. A faint streak of rose flushed the sky beyond the trees. Everything would change now, touches of pink would show in the water which would begin to shine, glinting with rose and gold, the skin of the water would become a living thing, running with fragments of the world, washing them downstream into the following night. The sky grew paler as the sun rose, light had begun to touch the trees, which broke into a thousand surfaces, leaves and branches throwing off light and colour. He could not look at his canvas now, because of what was happening on the river. Though the banks were still in shadow the surface of the water in mid-stream shone like shot silk, bright pink and gold, the colour of fire between the prow of his boat and the horizon where the trees came down low and water almost touched the burning sky. Everything was always in flux, he thought, noticing a dark reddish hue close to the banks where the high trees overshadowed the water. It was both his overriding difficulty, and essential to him.

He put down his brushes, knowing it was finished for now. A sense of fatigue came over him, as he dropped tubes of colour into the box. He leaned over the side to call Auguste, and saw he had dropped off to sleep in the skiff...

-- Eva Figes Light

Eva Figes