Orbit




I’ve heard that from above, the earth is no different than us. Continents shaped from 
unrequited shifts and hysterical storms. Borders blurred with what was heaven before 
telescopes. All of it an archipelago of scars from innocent collisions with the stars, and 
itinerant.

And that what we mean by orbit is a fall. A mercy of near misses and an obedience 
to hunger. An obstinance that comes from so many years spent drifting apart after the 
fragments of our once-thunderous departure have gathered over us like ghosts and, 
slowly, are sainted into holiness.

In that way (the way in which I watch the moon), I still think of you sometimes. Not 
wondering whether you’re doing well, or poorly, or wishing either, but in Polaroids. 
Those American tourists trick-or-treating during dinner in Honfleur. The way the piano 
there played itself. The winter bunching against the porch in Freeport. The wood-creak 
of Virginia evenings, and stumbling home drunk from our wine. The elegance of that first 
us, and the places we couldn’t put our hands.

And, later, the sadness that grew inward like a radish and punched through the roof of 
our hearts, chandeliering there. You biting your lip and brandishing your bitterness over 
me like a gun. Me lying about my smoking and wishing to be the kind of person you were 
looking for. And for all the psalms I knew, something broke when you drove me to a 
restaurant in the suburbs and told me the list of things you wouldn’t forgive. Reciting lines 
others laid out for you like an outfit on the importance of being practical, and bragging 
about it. Unraveling me, and hoping that would fix something.

There were moments afterward, sometimes on trains, when I was overcome with the 
weight of it. When it would perch on my shoulders and speak a great hollowness into 
me like a priest, leaving me tongue-stuck and sideways in my seat from some-number-
too-many again and tired of everything that empties us the way love can. Or slumped in 
the back of cabs beneath streetlights learning whatever word means rigid acceptance of 
the tectonics that take us, scraping, toward some equally meaningless Ecclesiastes. Some 
other blindness, and some new wonder.

I’m writing this to say I still have no word for you. Or the darkness that sometimes fills 
me. Or the indifference. And that this great beauty that I am falling through finds me, for 
a moment, lying on my back beneath the deepening silence that once filled us too. That 
there is still a reflection of us above me, the distance giving it shape. My pendulum thumb 
sometimes covering it, sometimes not.