Pearl Dust

January 3

The sky is pale as shallow water. The white winter sun shatters its surface, kindling dustmotes that hang in the air like incandescent jellyfish. Naked apple trees and curling willows are frosted with pearl dust—crystalline icing glinting with flecks of sapphire, citrine, and zircon. The sun’s rays catch in the grey cat’s fur, and she is sphered in a phosphorescent nimbus.

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In the lee of the hill, the fields are soaped with the bleach-green bloom of frost-flowers and a lather of sheep. Across Skenfrith’s valley, icy sunlight sluices the hills in Neptune’s hues: seaweed, kelp, carrageen, nori, and shark-shadow. Hedgerows ripple the pastures, traced by frothing tides of sheep.

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Down in the village of Skenfrith, sunbeams skate down the slate roof tiles of The Old Vicarage. Meshed like fish scales, the slates are glazed in storm-blue and scab-red. At noon’s tolling, the sun still sails low on the southern horizon and the wood lattice of the bell tower is white as whalebone.

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