The sun is sitting low in the sky, the last rays of daylight turning the clouds every shade of bruise. The air begins to cool, the last warmth radiating from the ground in waves. The birds are roosting, relinquishing their flight paths to bat wings and feathery moth antennae.
I walk the familiar route, the daily trudge from the bland expanse of work to the cramped comforts of home. My feet know the way, my brain engaged on what to cook for dinner, on whether I’ve paid the gas bill, on the book I’ve just started but can’t quite get into.
I’m so distracted, I almost trip over his foot. I might have missed him entirely, if I’d just looked across the park at the ducks’ fuss and quack, if I’d been watching that battered sunset instead of my own shoes. If only.
But I do see him and I know in that moment that he isn’t homeless, he isn’t sleeping off a day of cheap cider drinking. Maybe it’s his stillness, the quiet that shrouds his body.
I should run, step away, reach for my phone and leave the rest to others. But I can’t. Something forces me on, something makes me lift back the tendrils of dog rose, ignoring the snatch of the thorns, showering their petals like pink snow.
And he’s lying there and I can’t look away…
Imagine you’re in the park with me, holding my hand, staring down at the poor dead man, feeling the chill of the coming evening creep up your neck.
Now you’re in the moment, think of the word CREPUSCULAR. Quite a word. What’s it make you think of? Let’s dissect.
Crep: Well, it could be those lovely thin pancakes the French are so keen on. Or, if you’re like me, it could make you think of a slang term for the few ounces of waste the loo flushes away. Okay, so we start with ‘crap’.
Pus: I know I’m using the ‘P’ twice, but it’s how I hear the word, so stick with me. I don’t really need to describe this further- horrible, smelly, rotting foulness.
Cular: Not really a word, of course, but it’s the end of ‘muscular’, so could relate to muscles, right?
Okay, so we have- Poo, Pus, and Muscles. Hmm, lovely.
So, let’s relate back to our opening. Does ‘crepuscular’ describe the poor, unfortunate, rotting corpse, covered in unmentionables, his muscles wasting, contracting from lack of blood supply?
NO. Look around you at the sunset, at those shades of purple and orange fading into blue. Crepuscular means ‘twilight’* or something that resembles it.
So today’s word is CREPUSCULAR because it manages to sound absolutely revolting whilst describing something beautiful.
*P.S. Do you reckon Stephenie Meyers’ book series would’ve captured the hearts of vampire-o-philes across the globe if they’d been called ‘Crepuscular’ instead?