Copyright 2010 © Charles Ellik
From the collection Landscapes
In the shadow of sleek condo towers, I stand with a group of poets on a fashionable marina boardwalk. Pricey glass-walled restaurants perch on pylons as though annoyed by the frigid water. Fiberglass girls bob obediently at their docks like million dollar yachts waiting for the Man to finish dinner. Wood-fired pizza. My friends look down at their watches and look up at the sky. Chill Pacific wind. Water burbling against the seawall. Seagulls squawking. Traffic complains in the city behind us. On a far shore, some industrious child left his Monopoly houses, black and red container ships, rafts of Lincoln Logs, Hotwheels, cranes like stick-figure horses. Facing the city, across hammered steel blue waters: Vancouver mountains painted lapis blue and slate gray. Forest-cloaked slopes, snowy crowns wrapped in silken mists. Between us, low clouds of ray, lavender, and dusty gold with patches of brilliant blue. The sun is nearly setting. She slips her warm fingers horizontally beneath the clouds like an inquisitive hand under a sweater…and pulls out a miracle. Joggers stop jogging. Yuppies on penthouse balconies stand pointing. The mouths of retirees in camel-hair coats hang open. Construction workers look up from their tools and squint. A police cruiser parks and its tinted window slides down. We all stand facing East, looking across Coal Harbor composing operatic crescendos in our minds for the vision manifesting before our eyes. Some-mysterious-where, between the expensive city and the priceless mountains, a Rainbow appears. Redder than blood or scandal, more yellow than cowardice or sour candy, Greener than lust, bluer than Jazz or sapphires or a gas flame, solid as Faith. Alone it would be spectacular, a sizzling arc of Art, an omen, a comet's tail, the bow of Apollo…but today heaven splits…two, three, four, layers…and as the sun sinks, a fifth pale rainbow emerges! All stacked on one another like a spool of fairytale thread until too pale to distinguish, too thin to differentiate. Ripples from an epic drop of sunlight. A Science Fiction tunnel into the dimension of Living Colors. Above the primary arch is a gap of clear air like an empty track on an album, then two MORE rainbows, each half as brilliant, half again as wide. A seven-layer rainbow. I have to remind myself I am not religious. Spectators begin laughing and patting one another on the back, as if taking credit. We are vain philosophers convinced it could not exist without witnesses, as if it were some diva who'd refuse to perform for an empty house. Then the mischievous sun slips below the horizon before anyone can find a camera, and our miracle fades. The sky is sudsy dish water. The city remembers its clocks. Parked cars and trucks cough as though embarrassed and merge back into traffic. My poet-friends applaud. None of us spent a dime.