by Marie Marshall


In the days of the old British Empire, two colonial types were sitting on a Verandah somewhere in Malaya, sipping their pink gins and watching the day end.

The sun which during the afternoon had been a harsh and dazzling glare of white had consolidated to a disc of tangerine low in the sky. It rode on the horizon clouds, and its slanted rays turned the little breakers on the strand first to vanilla, then to lemon, then to copper. It kissed the far lip of the sea, sending a fan of reflections back across the miles of water. As that disc dulled to red and began to curtsey below the world’s edge, the sky faded from aquamarine to navy blue. Venus, in her peace and beauty, graced the sky by appearing at a wink, and, as if she were a herald, a million-million other stars were suddenly scattered onto the evening like diamonds onto an indigo velvet cape. Soon only a ribbon of red remained at the horizon. The sea’s lapping at the sand hushed to a repetitive whisper, the breeze captured the sudden scent of moon-seeking flowers, and the liquid notes of a bird’s call floated in from the plantation. Then the remains of sunlight evaporated with the last cloud, and a crescent moon was suspended away to the side of this heady panorama.

“Not bad, eh?” said one ex-pat to the other.

“There’s no need to rave about it like a ruddy poet, old man,” came the reply.