ONCE UPON A TIME, WHEN TIME WAS MEASURED in the length of shadows, I met a woman - on a dirt road much like this one - who didn’t know the smell of rain.
“How sad,“ she said to no one. “I want to know it.”
Her long black eyes were not quite as long as her gaze, and so it was, on a day like today - impossibly February, in the height of summer - the infrared waves rose as the sun lowered that final time it would lower among the skyline of aloes - as if by great pallbearers of Light, into the ground.
It was on an eve such as this that I stumbled over her shadow, the woman with the long black eyes, and felt a chill - cold and black as thunderclouds.
Stretching long beyond valleys and rivers of dust, beyond the red blaze of sea, I knew not where it had begun, but her shadow was easily the longest I’d ever seen. It must have been the longest in the world - beyond deserts without clouds, beyond clouds without dreams.
This shadow must have meant that she was very old in this time when time was measured in shadows - she, with her long black eyes and longer black gaze. She must have been, perhaps, the oldest woman in the world.
“But I am not,” she said suddenly as a crack of lightning, as if reading the pages in my eyes.
“In a dog’s time, I could count my years on one paw.” And she howled a startling blue song that made the ground tremble. Her shadow:
“Long as a difficult birth,” she sang. “Long as lovers‘ time.”
She should have passed away long ago for that long, blue shadow of a song she sang that first time that she smelled rain. And what a long soft rain it was. Like a dusting on her crackling black skin. Or the crackle of an overdue smile.
Long as shadows go when the sun is low, it was. Or low as a hum as a hum can be