The Green Flash (One Idea)

By Peter Halstead

On the world's last stand,
As far away as you can get
From town and still be on the land
Just before the customary set

Of sun, boxed in by the sea,
Lost in an oasis
Of maritime expectancy,
Equal parts of surge and stasis,

On the island's widest beach
We sit and watch the orange sun
Descending slowly out of reach
Of whatever harm the world has done,

Waiting for its token sign
The concession to our frail belief,
Where the planet draws the line
Of day against the reef,

Watching as the light decreases
And turns the sky to sand,
Furnishing the thesis
Where the offing plays its hand

And in a sudden move,
Proving inexplicably
Things you cannot prove,
Replaces gold with alchemy,

Demonstrating just how lost we are,
How strange the air
In worlds so far,
To want a private solar flare:

So no one mentions you can stare
Intensely at a yellow flame
And, in New York or anywhere,
The end turns out the same:

With fission branded in our eyes,
When its prominences pass,
Fire's complement replies—
Which, for suns, is simply grass—

All the mystery of tints
Turned by mirrors to a fact—
Despite experimental squints,
Angles let the light diffract:

Any hunch would look the same—
Replacing sight with what we read
Displaces magic with a name
Which in truth we shouldn't need.

Rendezvous Bay, Anguilla
November 30th, 1997

Rewritten August 23rd, 2003