Some mornings, Emily doesn’t feel like writing more than two lines, so we get this:
#1127, c. 1868
Soft as the massacre of Suns
By Evening’s Sabres slain
No punctuation by the way, save for one demure and yet necessary apostrophe.
So, I re-wrote the rules again. Maybe I am still playing by Chance, but I have to admit that this caught my eye when I was looking at another poem on the same page. I couldn’t turn away from this one. Furthermore, I was saving it for today because today is the solar eclipse. This two-line murder of the star at the center of the our solar system seemed like the right fit.
We are on the border between Cancer and Leo. The sun is about to move into his place of exaltation. Before ascending the throne, the sun king first has to die and then come back to life again on the other side of the line.
Soft as the massacre of suns. I want to say those words over and over. By Evening’s Sabres slain. All those S-sounds. When I say it out loud, I whisper. Even when I just read it, the voice in my head is whispering. Soft. Massacre. This violence drops below the horizon, and we are in darkness.
I went looking for the Purple Martins. They used to congregate beneath the Causeway Bridge during the month of July. It was quite a show in the past. Clouds of birds moving in a supple, twittering, ellipsis, up and around the bridge. This went on for an hour before they came to rest beneath the bridge. Purple Martins are odd, territorial birds. The clowns of the air. A flock of knuckle-heads. They love coming back to the same place again and again, even if it’s not a good idea. The end of the Causeway Bridge has been their nesting place for as long as anyone can remember. Someone built a platform under the bridge so that the humans could watch the birds settle in for the night. Now, I have found that you can’t get to the viewing platform. It’s been closed off since the storm. They’re bolstering the levee, I imagine. Who knows? We have been cut off from our Purple Martins, one more casualty of the storm. Soft as the massacre of suns. One more thing we’ve had to live without, and for the most part, without knowing it’s gone either.
A soft massacre is one you might not notice. It happens with little outward sign or sound of violence. It’s that silent descent when no one is looking. When the enemy takes his quarter quickly and without rancor. It’s not personal. It’s not sneaky either. There is no moral corruption in such a murder. It is the natural order of light moving into dark. One must take the other. A relief almost. A death undeniably. A loss certainly. But one that releases itself without resistance.
Soft as the massacre of suns. I love writing it and saying it. This will be my mantra today, all day.
There is no enemy and no ally in such a battle. We know the sun will surge past the evening sky again the next morning. But when the sun comes to the end, when Emily looks at the sky, she sees a contest that the bright, life-giving force loses every time. Softly, softly. What is this muffled defeat? Her tone here is not neutral. Actually I hear excitement, as though she relishes the sight of this falling monarch. Each day, the sun king dies. In the moment of his death, the sky turns gorgeous colors and softens. In dying, the sun finally gives himself over, not only to the night, but he also releases the last portion of himself, which is the softest part. Those remaining whispers of sunlight are the most beautiful and the most tender. Only under duress and under the force of the night coming upon him, will the sun finally drop his armor and reveal what he has been protecting all day. The tender, delicate, most soft center. That explosion of pink, orange, blue, gold and purple bands of light before the end.
It’s a pity the evening has to kill the sun in order to pry loose his loveliest part. But some are stubborn that way.