noun | cor·us·ca·tion | \ˌkȯr-ə-ˈskā-shən, ˌkär-\
1: a sudden gleam or flash of light
2: a striking display of brilliance or wit
As a child, nothing seemed so striking as the experience of flight. I distinctly remember pressing my face to an airplane window at the age of four just after takeoff, gazing out, transfixed by the expansion of earth below, as the cars and buildings shrank into miniature toy-like caricatures. It was too much to comprehend: the highways and rivers snaking in the Midwestern winter; the Chicago skyline which I had driven past so many times, now a confused semblance of what I knew up close; the cold, white, mountainous billows above drawing ever nearer.
Most striking, though, from this memory is the moment the plane broke through the ceiling of clouds above Illinois, the jarring explosion of the sun’s brightness and warmth reflecting off both the clouds below and the plane’s aluminum composite wings. Squinting against this coruscation, something deep within me felt elevated, transported. I stayed pressed against the Plexiglas pane, mesmerized by this fresh, new world in the sky.
The above definitions of this word, coruscation, create an implicit juxtaposition: physical sheen and/or luminous intellect. Two distinct realms—exteriority and interiority—inherent to this noun. As genres, prose poetry and flash fiction/nonfiction inhabit the liminality of these definitions. Each subgenre exists formally as a distinct flash on the page, yet the writing is fraught with depth and insight, asking the reader to return and read once more.
The writing in this special feature is characterized by compression—the form’s relation to its meaning, the way lyric structure affects the reader, allowing density to be unpacked and truth to be revealed. This then gets at artistic coruscation in these forms: as we read, we look both inward and outward, we feel the light of the words on the skin of our souls and the weight of their brilliance buoys us.