Wellesley 81, Massachusetts
A castellated wall of purple cloud stands up from the cal sea, rising majestically above the wide sweep of the horizon. Above the wall the sky is pale pink vanishing into delicate lavander which in turn is embraced by the deep rich blue of evening. Far around to the north and south stretches the great embankment until it is lost in the murky purple of the gathering shadows. Almost directly ahead of the boat, in which I sit alone, it is broken in mid-flight by a magnificent burst of golden light. I can see in to the cloud-masses beyond and am able to distinguish cloud-edges outlines in fire. But what draws my close observation and inspires in me a sort of superstitious awe is the apparition of two figures formed of the purple cloud-wall, which seem to lean out of the golden window, one from each of the lower corners. The figure on the left is the almost perfect outline of a man, that on the right of a veiled woman. The most uncanny feature of the whole is that the two great silent figures of cloud seem to be gazing steadily and wistfully at the boat, at me, and at each other.
Perhaps they are imploring me to help them cross the gold which they dare not blot out so they may melt into each other’s arms and become true lovers forever. But they sadly realize that I am a mere mortal being who can do nothing but watch them, as they watch me. Perhaps they envy my access to do passionate living; they must always remain silent and calm, for any act of passion would immediately destroy their shadowy cloud forms. They cannot see that I love the calm, that I envy them their silent devotion to each other and their submissiveness to the inevitable. Perhaps they regret the passing of this time into night, for now is their birth and life and love while night brings about their still death. I also regret the passing of this beautifully sad hour; the night blots out my thoughts and dreams and the day permits my mind to throw no long mental shadows. This is my sacred time each day; I worship it as the two great figures worship each other.
The light grows dimmer, but I still gaze spellbound at the mighty window. As I watch, the figure on the left moves . The noble, leonine head is bending toward the cloud-sill. The entire figure bends, recedes, and is lost in the blackening depths of the awaiting and enveloping clouds. But the glowing window remains and the veiled woman, as the light begins to fade, still regards the boat, me, and the empty half of the window with an indefinable sadness expressed in the drooping lines of the graceful figure. The light fails, the window darkens, the cloud wall becomes one with the rest of the sky. The wind has freshened and the boat is beginning to rise and fall with the swell of the waves. I sigh as the impenetrable darkness of a moonless night closes down over my world of sky and sea.
Found in "Century Readings in English Literature" edited by John Cunliffe, J.F.A Pyre and Karl Young. Published by D. Appleton-Century, 1929.