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The Green Sunset

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"Baby I"

Joan Armatrading


The setting sun was one of those strange ones that gilds everything it touches. They were walking in Hyde park, down an avenue lined with elderly trees whose branches intertwined overhead. In places the leaves on the lower branches of the canopy looked exactly as though they belonged in an impressionist painting, small dabs of gold and green paint scattered on a canvas to resemble sprays of light. The lawns that were not cast in shadow were an incandescent green, and where the pavement was touched by sunlight it was changed from grey to a dusty pink. Yes, it felt exactly as though they were inside a painting. Even the people walking ahead of them looked stationery, mere splashes of color that changed depending on where you were looking. 

They held hands and walked slowly. They didn’t talk, didn’t look at one another. It was enough to be strolling side by side, mere impressions of themselves, their color and shape and size created by the strokes of time’s brush. They sat on a park bench for no other reason than it was the right thing to do. Adam put his arm around Sauli’s shoulder and Sauli leant on him. That also was the right thing to do. They sat still and silent while the late afternoon sun captured the essence of their ephemeral existence and gilded it. They were small figures in a picture, the kind of figures people could look at in a gallery and wonder to themselves who that couple was, sitting on that bench? What were they thinking? Where did they come from? What were their real lives like? 

“They call this a green sunset,” Adam said at length. “It must be because anything green is made greener.”

“A green sunset,” Sauli repeated.

“Let’s kiss in it,” Adam said. 

They arranged themselves into a kissing position. They kept their eyes open. Looking into each other’s eyes while kissing was a singular pleasure to them both. They kissed in such a way as to keep their lips dry, brushing their lips lightly to and fro, in keeping with the light that was brushing over them like an application of transparent glaze. "Your blue eyes are as clear as the sounds of bells,” Adam thought. “Your eyes are as private as a stream running under trees,” Sauli thought. Their lips parted but their touches remained brush-like. They felt their noses touching. Their fingertips drew invisible marks of love on each other’s cheeks and on the backs of their necks. 

And then the right time for embracing arrived. A shift took place in their apprehensions of physical proximity. What had felt ineluctable between them, the anonymous closeness of being like people in a painting, suddenly found the anchor of its human depth and their chests filled with the mortality of their love. Now they kissed as though the moisture inside one another’s mouths and coating their tongues was the nectar of their youth and fallibility and equivocal corporeality.

Now they closed their eyes. Kisses like these demanded one’s full attention. “I have never kissed a more beautiful man,” Adam thought, winding the yellow thread of Sauli’s affection out of his kisses and onto the spool of his heart. “I can never explain that to anyone, not even to him.”

Sauli’s tongue trembled in the capture of Adam’s tongue. “You really are like a wolf,” he thought. “Your kisses are like snow. They accumulate into a drift that lies softly, permanently, in my heart and doesn’t melt away."

They left the park, but the green sunset stayed with them into the night. When at last they fell asleep with Sauli lying in the crook of Adam’s body, and Adam’s arm around his waist, time decided to look in on them. It watched them for a while. “I like what I’ve done here,” it said to itself. “Monet couldn’t have done it better.” It swept its hand lightly across their sleeping figures, making a delicate flourish at the end, as though leaving its signature.