In that long ago somewhere very near this place he’d watched a falcon fall down the long blue wall of the mountain and break with the keel of its breastbone the midmost from a flight of cranes and take it to the river below all gangly and wrecked and trailing its loose and blowsy plumage in the still autumn air.
—Cormac McCarthy, from The Road
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
A memory of violence, so commonplace in Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic world, here made startling. The rhyme of “fall” and “wall” provides the initial momentum to a sentence that only speeds up as it plunges, unimpeded by punctuation, down the page. Burying the object of “break,” the sentence has us chase its meaning as it does the falling falcon. We imagine the falcon dashed on the side of the mountain. Only when we reach “a flight of cranes” do we understand: the thing broken was not the falcon’s breastbone but a crane. Here, adjectives and conjunctions compound like ripples, slowing the action of the sentence until hunter and prey are suspended in the still autumn air. The crane is caught; the outcome is inevitable. We are left waiting—the man, for the crane’s death, us, for his.
—Carolyn White’s work has appeared in PRISM international and The Citron Review.