Day doesn’t give up the sky easily.
Last ditch, the blue fistfights with darkness like death: parts of the horizon arc fade differently, the sun exits dramatically or not; subtle or sudden, Ophelia or Faustus, depending on which way you’re flying and how high you are.
I mean east to west: bam, the sunset cattle-brands the horizon into an angry tight lip, then slams the sky shut like a granny purse, socking away the day for safekeeping, to snore under a fat pillow of layered cottony cirrus and leftover cloud piles, indifferent, floating; nothing to see here folks, so move along.
But eastbound? Not so fast: a jaundice swirls into the cloud bottoms, then fever fires the skyline like a malaria flush, the sun sighs itself westward, the horizon twists a blue frown–if you’re high enough, say forty-some-thousand–the downturn matches the curve of the earth, wingtip to wingtip. If you could hear it, dusk would be a groan; resignation, played out and spent, the day says “uncle;” hold that thought for tomorrow, finito.
Moonrise, maybe? Or not, depending on which rosary bead the month assigned to the comatose day, barely on life support and just waiting for last rites if the priest would ever get here. Yet, what is there to save? You pull the plug or you don’t, but the day flatlines regardless.
Like the cartoon before the main feature, the moon wants you to laugh, to goof around. “What the hell!” you say then wish you had the words back. Gotcha, again: joker luna burns her way through an undercast like an Alamagordo A-bomb. Or, just plain, unadorned, served up like tomorrow tossing a volleyball into today, shiny bone-white and perfect fine china, place setting for one but you’ll have to eat with your hands. Any old way, any late day, the moon’s solid like the inner workings of a clock, underwriting tides and light in waves and wedges, depending on which blue you sail on.
And we sail on. Lights of passing ships, red on the right means a jet headed your way, emerald green and we’re fellow travellers. Sometimes moonlight makes their contrail glow like the luminescence of the deep sea and we’re just so many minnow streaking god-knows-where or why. Other times you only see the contrail when you cross it, then bump like a dumptruck when you do.
Opening act, the moonrise is: hey, where are you from? Seen it before; climb into the sky and race you till dawn, except celestial fine china never tires–but you do. You’re looking to the main event anyway: the Milky Way.
But tonight the Milky Way is part skim: atmospheric crud, even seven miles high, and you’ve got bad seats for the whole night show. What the hell, find your friends–Orion, never lets you down; Cassiopeia, vain beauty like you even looking at her, Ceres, you dog, and you, your jet flashing like a pimpmobile from below, insignificant from above. It’s a celestial tailgate, but you’re fake, manmade and only flying for now. But still.
Once it’s night, it’s just dark. Sure, we have the wubba, the blankie, the 14-satellite good to fifty feet GPS accuracy, and the guy in the left seat, keeper of the algorithms of gravity and lift and flight like the atomic clock that says when and how you fly and land. Because unlike the days sailing the night–you’re not really part of the heavens: visitor parking–and there’s a limit.
That’s okay. The non-stop must stop; it’s not “just flying,” which everything else in the sky does, but rather, “a flight.” And you, flyer for life, guy with the hands on the controls and the deliberately silent, taciturn “you’ll never get anything out of me” recalcitrance yet flying for all the years of your life, there is this. All of this; and you’re one lucky son of a bitch every time your feet leave the ground and the night sky lets you fly anyway.
When it’s all said and done, and you’re slipping through the terminal headed for home, and others wonder about your sly smile, you can’t help but think to yourself, how could I not?
But nobody would “get it,” really, so why say a word? Better just leave it at that.