vespertine

As the day evens out, the throbbing heart of the heat of the day shifts from glow to gloam towards gloom, and the sky bleeds corpuscular crepuscular red; as the firmament falls to fundament in layers like travertine, it is travel time: turn away from the work of day toward the delight of night. It is evening, fall of day, living time for the libertine; it is whisper-time; it is vespertine.

Ah, vesper, the Latin evening, time of Hesperus, the evening star – which we now know is Venus, that planet named for the goddess of love. It is the time when young lovers ride in pairs on Vespas, especially on those summer nights. We are in the passage through the sunset from twilight time to nights in white satin. We sit by the boardwalk, refreshing ourselves al fresco, and the runners and bikers and strollers passing by gradually become fewer; the beach volleyball players abruptly cease and pack up their nets between the time I sip my beer and the time I sip it again. As we walk homeward, it is a silent summer evening, but the sky is alive with light; the buildings in the distance are a surrealistic sight. The water reflecting them is rippled smooth like century-old window glass. My eye is seized by a light down to the right on the beach: a young man sitting at a table working on his laptop and wearing large headphones.

Vespertine: such a fine wine of a word, encircling the ambit of encroaching dark. Monks and nuns say vespers in chants before retreating to their cells; but vesper names Venus too, bringing not chants but chance, not retreat but advance. There is no guttural gloaming in this adjective of evening; after the v-neck unzip of the onset, it slides like silk on the tongue tip, alternately smooth and crisp, ending with the sonorous hum of the nasal. Things you have half-heard waft past your ears in tatters and feathers: is it vice, vest, viper, vestal, Vespasian, spur, spurt, expert, pert, tine, time? Is Valentine pertinent? Do you hear the French j’espère (“I hope”)? The vespertine hour is a time for yearning. The light is hiding. Dream with me a while. As you drift to sleep, flakes of songs fall like ashes past your ears. Time will circle back; it will be warm and dark again.

One response to “vespertine

  1. A lovely description. I associate the word with Björk, who named an album after it.

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