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.
Peter 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.