Bartleby’s Rainbow by Reg Darling

The autumn day’s brightness seemed as substantial as the Earth itself. The road angled up a steep slope across the slowly healing scar of a tornado blowdown that opened the view to a broad expanse of forested valley and vast sky strewn with feathery wisps of high cirrus clouds. As I approached the top of the ridge, scattered clouds, from horizon to horizon lit up in rainbow. At first, the patches of rainbow seemed as random as the distribution of clouds across the sky. But then, I imaginatively connected the pieces, and they formed a continuous arc, a whole rainbow. In that moment of realization, everything—my life, humanity’s collective love and madness, the weird dance of chaos and order that is the world’s wild mysteriousness—all fit together in a moment of perfect, ineffable coherence. The angle of light shifted with my forward-driven motion, the rainbow vanished, and I drove on.

My attention returned to the road and the voice of Tom Waits on the car stereo, “You got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow.”

BIO: Reg Darling lives in southwestern Vermont. He paints a small watercolor every day and hasn’t missed a day in more than six years. His essays have been published in Azure, The Chaos Journal, Sky Island Journal, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, River Teeth Journal, Tiferet Journal, Timberline Review, Whitefish Review, and others.

His daily watercolors, photographs, and occasionally a bit of writing can be seen at

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