A phantom ocean

MJ 071419

M. Jakubowski

Bored at night I go upstairs to the window that leads to the back roof. Parting the curtains turning the latches pushing up the glass and the screen to bend down to less than half my height with my chin almost touching my knee I side-step over the sill onto the flat rowhouse roof.

My foot is immediately assailed with the waning warmth of the July sun stored in the roof’s surface. I feel the eyes of the birds and squirrels on me, a pale giraffe joining them suddenly thirty feet above the ground to peer at each other between the maple leaves. They stay quiet until I look away.

And there’s the moon in the flesh-blue palm of the sky. The sun’s an inch from the horizon behind me. My knees go a little numb at the sight. My feet relax. I know the moon’s solid but it’s as lacy white as an afternoon cloud. An alien orb in disguise come to visit us. From my dirty roof, scuffing my feet calloused from a month of shoeless summer hours outdoors, I see the moon’s five o’clock crater like a dimple or an eye or a distorted mouth. Caught in the same nightmare again looking down again remembering.

I hear scritching in the trees a dozen feet away. I look at the chairs and abandoned potted plants and roofing equipment on the rowhouses to my left and right. I hear the sun ducking lower still to avoid the moon’s ghostly leer.

I could launch toward the green tower of maple leaves touching the roof and walk that branch to the trunk to hear what the catbirds and squirrels have to say when they talk low. “The moon does not look. The moon does not speak. It is only gravity spinning us around and around and down if we’re not careful.”

A phantom ocean hisses across the darkened sky. Stepping back to the open window, following the mosquitoes inside, having left some skin out there on the roof, some cicada shell of myself on the trunk of the trees clinging to stare with empty eyes at the glow of far off things, and letting them fill me.