The Grey Man Goes to the Movies

He knows that he enters the dark­ness even as the dark­ness enters him; the Grey Man is sure of this. A door shuts athwart daz­zle, across sound. The tem­per­a­ture of a body climbs with­out notice. Antic­i­pat­ed and wel­come. The Grey Man finds a seat and waits, observ­ing the nego­ti­a­tions of light and the absence of light, curi­ous about the method, the modal­i­ties by which this con­jures mean­ing. The black­ness parts at his curios­i­ty and yields a lim­it­less parade, oceans of grey and shat­tered hearts, all yield­ed to the vio­lence of the wind: that colos­sal indif­fer­ence to us. Archi­tec­ture is top­pled and in the top­pling freed. Storm. The order and the hon­our of gen­er­a­tions are waived and whirled. Every­thing is sil­ver, sil­vered, com­pro­mised in vision­ary inten­si­ty and yet the Grey Man knows this pass­es: pas­sage being the nature of things. Fin­gers flut­ter­ing in the dark. Colour aris­es. Pewter turns to peach, to hues of pink. The gloom of ances­tors to a crude but com­fort­able blue. Brown bleeds from char­coal, reds from the tones of ash. Pyres and fur­naces ren­der­ing mem­o­ry. Alone in the vast gloom and with­out eyes he sees won­ders. Bereft of ears his guts resound with new musics, unbe­liev­able sounds. The Grey Man rais­es his hands and low­ers his cen­tre of grav­i­ty to embrace the unknown till now. In the new­ly coloured world it begins. Green. All of it green. Over­pow­er­ing green and glit­ter. A city made of pre­cious stones refus­es to throw open its gates. Angry beasts that should not fly take wing. Heart­less­ness and igno­rance flee from their homes; nomads and deserts haunt those rear-view mir­rors. There’s no place like it. The set of lens, the fruit­less promise of the opti­cal; shut down the four direc­tions thinks the Grey Man, abol­ish them. Open it all. There is more to the world than this. His hands and his stom­ach are joined. Sound and sense in con­tact once, for once. How he under­stands. The Grey Man knows a civ­i­liza­tion in the hot pur­suit of its best shad­ow. This is it. Let­ting the dark­ness out. He waits for the lights to come back on.

dube_cutout_postPeter Dubé is the author, co-author or edi­tor of eleven books includ­ing the nov­els Hov­er­ing World and The City’s Gates, the short fic­tion col­lec­tion At the Bot­tom of the Sky, the novel­la Sub­tle Bod­ies, which was a final­ist for the Shirley Jack­son Award, and Con­jure: a Book of Spells, a col­lec­tion of prose poems that was short­list­ed for the A. M. Klein Prize. His most recent work is the short fic­tion col­lec­tion Begin­ning with the Mir­ror.