The Magic Hour

Walking the afternoon streets of the Inner West, waiting for that time the American film director Terrence Malick called “the magic hour”.

It’s still too early yet, not silver enough by half, but the coolness hints at the night to come, and the promise of the first stars.

Everywhere joggers and cyclists and prams and dog walkers, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, and stumbling explorers looking at nothing much but their iPhones. 

In the era of COVID-19 you’d think we had just discovered all at once how to walk and wander.

I’m listening to The Strokes’ ‘Not the Same Anymore’. This great and bitter line about how “you’d make a better window than a door”. 

Sometimes you have to wonder if the psychic chemistry of song writing really does come down at each of us like a knife from the gods. Not separated at all, but strangely webbed in resonances just off the edge of explication, and right on the button of feeling.

I see an old yellow painted corner store converted into a home, a teddy bear hoisted to a high window peering down the street.

I see new apartments across a main road that look like an attempt to picture the future. Only a few lights on.

I hear garbages being dragged on their wheels, bumping the gravel of the pavement. I hear the light rail pass in a vibration that passes through the homes that line the tracks. Noises that even penetrate the music on my headphones.

Ibis strut across the side streets. Slow moving cars with early headlights on, cruise some territory between care and aimlessness and predation.

A Chinese couple rob bins of plastic and cans to cash in at recycling machine somewhere else tonight. Clouds are fallen from some higher place, talc on the god blue of the sky and further on, towards the horizon, a faint orange discolouring edges the night’s first greys.

The trees and their hanging branches and leaves remind me of scratches and weeping. Suffering, green and shapely and alive from another time, almost able to speak if you want to stop and hear them.

In the gutters I see childhood, it’s stones and twigs and places to sit and talk.

Street lights are coming on. Eyes of gold. I walk uphill in the middle of a road, my legs growing longer, my breathing stronger in the electrical oxygen of an evening freshness. 

I’m so tall the trees seem to move or touch my hair. I find a place to stand and watch the sunset spread in a flame of pink across the houses before me. I think maybe, today, I can walk across the roofs and step into a magic hour.

– Mark Mordue