The edge closest to the sun There is a starkness to this light; a fascination with fireballs and comets like the vitreous bodies of giant eyes, spheres of hydrogen and helium fusing like the deep shadows on the streets between
tall buildings, which trick the nyctinastic flowers – such as citrus-coloured daises in window boxes – to close their petals, like the ciliary muscle expands the iris in the magnesium-blazing brightness
beyond the gloom. At the frontier, particles of light and dark collide in sullen acrimony. They cluster, bright parasols and windbreakers in primary colours, in a boundary that rips and tears like the jagged rim
of an oyster shell. This edge is a place of certainty. Of the conviction of an acolyte, of a bluntness of knowing that is as inescapable as the sombre oval cast onto the pavement by a wide-brimmed hat.
As she tries to piece together the events of the night In fast-moving streaks, the morning flares through the naked branches of trees trapped in concrete. They flinch at the intrusion;
the light feels to them like particles that burn, like bonfire sparks or the bitterness of toffee apples. Fissures in the pavement are adorned with the last
of the ephemeral weeds, groundsel, hairy bittercress, chickweed, speedwell; their transient seed-bodies wave like exhausted hitchhikers and there is nothing
but the scent. It is the smell of fleeting ceremonies – stellar flares, anticipation, a morning murmuration made only of feathers and electrons. It has an optical
effect, a contraction and swelling of the muscles, like childish charcoal writing on the wall at the head of the bed. It is the smell that curled
from the downstairs bar, which settled in the folds of her jacket. She breathes it in and remembers a figure lounging below a forest of pine
air fresheners, thumbing the switch of his lighter, the one with the dragon carving. She remembers snuffing out a candle, fingers closing on smoky absence.
Katherine Collins is a poet, writer, and academic. She spends her time between Bristol and Oxford, where she holds a Leverhulme Fellowship at the University. Her writing has appeared in Ink Sweat & Tears, Finished Creatures, and Life Writing.