When I was young and all sorts of people were trying to grow me into a person of one particular faith amongst many, I was told some amazing and, ultimately to me, unbelievable stories. One was about a man called Noah who saves humanity and the animals from a great flood by marching them all into his ark, two by two. For me the most amazing part of this particular story always came right at the end. When, after the flood has subsided and everybody is safe – if stuck rather inconveniently on top of a mountain in Turkey – Noah’s god sends them a rainbow, the first one ever seen, as his promise that he will never again flood the world like that.
Forever after that, when a rainbow would appear outside the windows of my school in Bootle in North Liverpool, one of the faithful men of that place would intone gravely “It’s god’s promise boys, god’s promise.”
Well time passed and they didn’t manage to grow me into a person of one particular faith amongst many, but the rainbow story stayed with me.
I am always amazed by rainbows. The accidents of atmospheres and reflections it takes to create them and the fragility of their passing. Look away for even a minute and the rainbow might not be there anymore. As accidental and as fragile as human life.
Yesterday evening at around half seven I was sat on our back step reading, waiting for my tea to cook. When, looking up from my book, I saw a rainbow, appearing to arc across our alley, from the Earlsfield terrace to the Fallowfield terrace. Grabbing my camera I was able to photograph it’s appearance, it’s maturity and it’s fading.
And when it was gone it didn’t leave me a promise, it left me these words.
Such a real thing yet barely there, a rainbow in curved air.
Early in the evening, above our terraced yard in Liverpool.
Such a real thing, heart beating, full of thoughts and dreams.
Early in the evening in our terraced yard in Liverpool.
Shining and yet barely there. Like a rainbow.
Thanks to Terry Riley and the Rolling Stones for the loan of some of the words. I never really understood what ‘A rainbow in curved air’ meant until last night.
See also ‘Look: A perfect moment’