The sun began to seethe and boil with activity, brightening along its eastern limb.

Gas filaments pushed up off the surfaces and huge flux tubes full of plasma formed up, giant solar arteries, carrying the sun’s life blood across tremendous plains upon the solar surface.

The sun pulsed.

It breathed.

It roared heat and light into space.

The sun blew up.

Blinding sheets of light, tremendous gusts of pressure, great exhalations of radiation — the sun cast itself off.

It flashed here, it spewed forth fire there, restructuring continuously into gracefully complex Jackson Pollack-like energy arcs. Glowing streams and fans, radiant arches and domes, flaming towers – it was a living cathedral, remaking itself out of light and heat and fire.

Earth watched, leaf and stem and frond drawn in sharp-edged outline on the walls and fences of the city.

A jacaranda tree became a delicate lacy design on the house behind it, every stem and every leaf drown in precise detail on stucco, like the fossil imprint of some ancient, primal fern printed on a rock.

The world doubled, by means of shadows. Copies were everywhere; earth’s cave was full of forms. The earth was a sanctuary, full of icons.

Every carefully poised leaf, every waving fin, every flying wing strained forward and doubled, on tip toe to gawk and wonder.

Earth gaped.

The exploding sun fell toward the horizon.

In the top of the date palm tree, four small mockingbird eyes watched closely. The little heads rose and settled, pushing close to one another, downy chest to downy white chest, little spiky heads catching the bright golden rays, kissed to bed by fiercely departing light.

Other eyes watched too from various corners and nooks of the sea, the bay, the marsh and the uplands — the red-tailed hawk from a pylon, the marbled godwit on the mud bank, the snowy egret in the water, plumes aflame, the morning doves leaning forward on the wires, chests on fire, and a cabbage white, in his mustard, wings ablaze.

Every feather, every wing, every stalk and stem and leaf nearby, every life was a wick lit by the exploding, departing star.

In front of all the living creatures the huge molten globe, in fiery array, sank.

Down through the palm trees the sun rolled, down past the tiny eyes it fell, down it slowly cart wheeled through the fennels, down past fragile wings the fire tumbled, along earth’s airy curve it fell and into the sea it went.

And coming to its end, the exploding sun broke open, as if pierced, and spilled itself out into the sea.

The sun knelt, it sagged, it crumpled down at the edge of the water. Light trickled down its side and drizzled onto the ocean. The sun bled into the swells; it sank down to the kelp and bloodied the bass. It surfaced again and ran in a long, flowing golden river toward shore, riding a swell landward. Frothing to the beach, light soaked into the sand.

All the creatures watched in a stupor. They couldn’t move. They were fixed in place, welded to a leaf or branch or wire. Light pressed them down, fastening them onto the leafy seats below. Their open, pale wings, their tiny little legs, their heads, their eyes were solid gold.

The plants around them slurped and sucked at the sun. It entered their leaves. It ran down their stems. It dripped from their tips.

It ran down the ridges of the butterfly eggs.

It ran down the tips of the palm fronds.

It dipped into the nest and onto the new mockingbirds.

And all the winged creatures and the watching plants and the earth and the water, every raised head and every reclining surface, from shell fragment lying on the shore to wispy icy cloud high above, and every creature in between, all were baptized together for one awful and glorious moment in brilliant, golden fire.

The sun blazed and roared.

Earth gaped.

And obediently, the fire of life fell!


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