for the alumni

In that fateful hour no planets strike, no ghosts stir abroad, that holy hour, when all darkness pauses and for that instant is transformed. All creation breathes the mighty hosanna.

It is not on the high days of the harvest year that the dead gather. Nor on those mathematically precise equinoxes blessed three times: once, by the mystics; twice, by those ancient calculators the Druids, the Babylonians, the Aztecs; three times, by the precession of the stars. Nor on any human cycle. Their soft ochre lights pour together on unveined wings during the velvet nights of summer, and the brittle days of winter, and in the spring, and in the autumn, without preference. Their clock is ancient and erratic.

And you have found their little conference, unexpectedly, because your car broke down. You are footsore and weary, because you have been walking for four hours and thirteen miles and suddenly there they are, in the mouth of an alleyway, caught between the condoms and the burger wrappers. Their music is sweet and delicate as almond paste and for a moment your feet stop hurting.

When the sun comes up they will bear you away. Your disappearance will be a mystery.