Where the Fireflies Glowed and Flickered

Alkan Chipperfield

Behind the Big Wooden Buddha Temple in a Summer Long Ago, and Other Lights in Other Years Blinked in the Liquid Darkness.

Everyone seeks the brightest, most vibrant experiences. So do I. But so many softer, barely perceptible impressions. Sometimes my gratitude for these is overwhelming, but why then do I still lust after more?

The few remaining fireflies, glimmering and fleeting, glowing brightly then fading and disappearing. Such tiny lights, sometimes glowing and pulsing intense golden green for a moment. These tenuous impressions are the most precious. Why seek more? Why not be content? Yet still I restlessly seek.

She liked water, “watery things” as a child. Whenever she saw something watery she would try and go and play with it. Her mother would always scold her for getting soaked. She loves pineapple. She is interested in fashion.

Candles, hypnotic, disorienting, dreamlike, as they flicker gently in the slight breeze. Subtle muted green, red, and a very pale lime, in patterns of flowers. Came upon them while walking through the trees, obliquely. The busy, festive paths. The strange “J-Schulze” rock band in the park.

Again and again… Sometimes I see through the walls of an aquarium into another life, and tonight again I can think of no other moment, for a moment again. Why couldn’t we meet on the road outside. The glimpses of stolen shells. The empty train rattling into the night. The empty night seeping away behind the closing door. The sleeping room is filled with tatami mats. The ghostly faces peering through the windows, windows so slippery and smooth.

Twilight, the eerie humming moan of the electricity pylons in the wind. Walking up the road in this steep valley to a park. The deserted quarry headquarters, a doorway opening into an empty office, bright fluorescent light cast out. Trucks parked like giant inert metallic lobsters. The valley looms all around me, walking through a claustrophobic, forgotten realm. Here in this outhouse, the mouldering smell of mildewed carpet, dusty and cobweb-strewn, like an old caravan in the middle of a desert. As though there is nothing outside of this valley, it’s all so steep and overgrown. The run-down house amidst the scruffy, tattered, verdant garden.

Sounds and voices filter up from the restaurant and the apartment below. White Christmas lights on the tree outside glitter straight in through the windows. Lights, candles, and curtains through the windows of rooms across the street. Church bells tolling and clanging the hours. I am sustained in this floating and glimmering microcosm. These streets with their antique shops and art galleries, and obscure little restaurants. The strange disjointed, agitated dreams of glass walls and ghostly disconnection last night; the peace and space. I remember and forget utterly who I am. Last night it rained and the wind blustered; in my restless sleep, I became aware of a muffled pattering on the skylights, and saw the snow banked up on them; the first of the year, now mostly melted. And the dreams again. At least here I can melt out of my identity, and out of any identity, as though weightless and vast. Christmas lights in my eyes.

In Shadow