We’re sitting side by side on the bench, watching the sky.
He shouts greetings at passers-by,
that’s how I first met him some weeks ago.
“But I’m walking in the right direction to pick up my son from football practice.”
Says the man with the black lab straining at the leash.
The dog knows where he’s going.
“Good afternoon, there’s going to be a keyhole sunset today.”
A smile and and a nod, but not a word from the oh so private couple.
“Hello P! There’s going to be a keyhole sunset today!”
“Oh really.” P props his bicycle against the shelter.
“Do you know what a keyhole sunset is?”
“Shall I tell you then?”
“It’s very rare. It only happens when the sky is clear and there’s no haze on the horizon. As the sun slips into the sea, it changes shape and with the light on the water it makes a keyhole.”
So we watched. The three of us. P leaning against the shelter, M and I side by side on the bench. A living film passing before our eyes. Two pairs of sunglasses being shared and exchanged to view differing perspectives.
“Oh your sunglasses are rubbish.” M says to me. “They make everything look like it has jaundice. Have a look through mine!”
“Oh yes, yours make it much pinker.”
“They ought to. £150.”
“What brand are they?”
“So you paid £145 for the brand name and £5 for the glasses. I had a pair that enhanced the pink that way. My mother took them. She was always complaining that hers were scratched so I said, here have mine. So we swapped.”
“Let me have a look.” M puts the scratched glasses on. “They’re not scratched. They make everything look jaundiced. That’s why she took yours.”
Meanwhile the sun is slipping into the horizon.
“Look! There! Now! See how the shape is changing. Look! It goes in at the bottom and the light on the sea makes it a keyhole. Not a very good one. Not enough light on the sea. Now it’s a tunnel. Look! Look through my glasses.”
“I can see it’s a tunnel without looking through your glasses.” I say. P puts the glasses on and looks.
M shouts to a passer by, walking east: “You’re missing the tunnel sunset. Turn around.”
No response from passer by.
“What I like is the colour of the sea. Look at it.” I say.
“Silver blue,” M says.
“Look at the sand! Oooh look! It looks like…”
Gold – no it’s not gold.
“Well, I’m off home now. See you next time.”
“I’m off, too. Lovely to meet you,” says P. to me.
“And you too.”
“Are you coming?”
“No, I’m staying to watch the water and the sky….oooh look, there’re pink chemtrails! I think they’re chemtrails. Do you believe in chemtrails?”
“I wonder what chemical they’ve sprayed tonight. I bet it rains tomorrow.”
“We’ll probably all die.”
“What sort of virus have they sprayed on us?”
“We’re all going to die.”
“I must be off.” says P.
“I’m off,” says M “are you coming?”
“No I’m staying.” I want to look at that sand, some more.
“See you next time.”
It’s not gold, it’s tarnished bronze.
Looking from east to west, the lights of Brighton Pier fill the darkening sky, and in the west, electric blue, with stripes of pink-tinged cloud, and a few cumulous, blackened by the encroaching night. The sand, visible only when the tide is low, once a tarnished bronze is now black ink, and in the west where the children, mother and dog are playing, the soles of their shoes are being covered with bronze. They’ll track that indoors when they go home, leaving a trail of golden dust.
When I started my day out along the seafront, he was there, sitting barefoot, shoes neatly placed on the bench beside him.
“Been washing your feet in the sea have you?”
“Not yet. Just going. Walk with me to the sea.”
We walk over the pebble beach.
“Look I can run. Barefoot. On the pebbles.” Off he goes, all 72 years nimbly running across the pebbles, down to the water’s edge where he carefully rolls up his grey, pinstriped trousers. Then in he goes, up to the knees, and out again.
“Pretty cold,” I say.
“Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass bedstead.”
Ahh, that must be what turns the sand that tarnished bronze colour.
It was then, when M. went back to the shelter and I sat on the groyne, that I saw the fishing boat out on the horizon, a flock of gulls swarming.
It was then, when M went back to the shelter and I sat on the groyne that I saw the little swirling eddies created when the waves slipped off the concrete as the sea descended.
It was then, when M. went back the shelter and I sat on the groyne that I heard the pebbles splash in the water as the children played with Mother.
It was then, when M. went back to the shelter and I sat on the groyne that I breathed with the sea.
It was then….
It seems there are many ideas about what a keyhole sunset is. Found this pic…so amazing, I just had to borrow it! With due respect to the owner, please visit the site.
Suzie Brown of Oviedo captured this “keyhole sunset” about 10:30 p.m. in July while visiting her parents, who live in Anchor Point, Alaska.