Though we usually roamed into the bush on long walking explorations, my dog Missy didn’t seem to mind when I lay on my back on the lawn and took in the sky. I don’t know if it was something I had read, but it felt important, to try to appreciate that above us, taken for granted so often. I would have been 10 or 11. I would have had a football or a cricket bat in my hand. The sky brought the weather which ruled our moods and determined what we wore. The sky, the more you looked at it, was not a stable blue thing, it was a morphing, buzzing thing. The clearer the sky, the longer you stopped still to watch it, the more it seemed to be in flux, like the phosphenes one ‘saw’ within one’s eyes. The sky was made of phosphines, it was like a giant eye itself, little glitchy blobs rolling and floating, atoms in perpetual motion. And clouds, similar but never the same, unreported, fleeting masterpieces, also always transforming. You could have patterns of types of clouds according to topography and season, but this misty fluff was not the same as the trailing cumulus, which may or may not join an adjacent column and become a motion picture of an atomic bomb, or a map of England turning into a portrait of a snake with an old man’s head turning into a radical abstraction and still changing as the horizon of trees and rooftops claimed it.
There was an art exhibition, a phantasmagoria going on, all the time up there, it felt necessary to pay it heed a few times a summer. I tried to make myself watch as long as I could, and maybe experienced a form of meditation. I felt betrayed later when they told me that the sky was another fragile thing. But then, if it was an eye, looking out at space and back down at us, if it was part of us, our collective eye and we were part of the phosphenes which buzzed around its vision, in meditative moments, or just before sleep and upon rising, when the day’s business had not yet distracted, all of our troubles and strivings rising desperately below and all that black, airless desolation outside, I got it.
I always wanted my eyes more than my ears, I made that decision early. If I had been religious, I would have prayed for my eyes and the sky to be preserved in the hostile universe. There was too much to see, and it seemed we didn’t get long to take it all in.