The Earth’s Engine

I love the night sky.  Maybe it’s because there’s glittering orbs of silver in the distance, just past the darkened clouds and the infinite void.  Or maybe it’s just because of the dippers and the Roman gods dancing in the blackness above.  Humanity looked at the incomprehensible, the vast realm of not-Earth, and made it their own, counting stars and constellations.  We looked for our reflections, and we found them, in our own ways.  Maybe it’s not quite the same as peering into the ocean or shards of broken glass but, we still see it, in the space between stars.

The night sky reminds us that we are floating.  If you stare long enough, if you wait, then you can feel the earth turning and tilting.  Sometimes I wonder if star-gazers are enough to keep the engine of the earth ablaze; just us and our cases of nighttime blues.

I trace my finger along the grooves of the sidewalk outside my parents’ house.  My finger feels hot from the friction.  My heart feels heavy from everything.  I turn my gaze towards the pavement and pull my hair behind my ears.  The summer air hangs around me, balmy and stagnant.  I think about the world turning, searing through its orbit, roaring around the sun in a brilliant, milky-purple galaxy.  And I think of me, and this air, and this sidewalk, and this house, and the road three feet in front of me.  And how still it is.  It’s as if everything is always moving around me, and I just can’t see it.

It’s like when the bickering started, and then the yelling.  The time when my father decided he didn’t love her anymore.  He never had to say it.  She stood there, briefcase in hand, watching him stir the spaghetti sauce.  The house smelled like tomatoes and garlic and pasta, all bathed in the glow of warm light from the lamp in the kitchen.  He smiled at her, or grimaced, maybe.  It was the way people look at the regrettable used-to-be, the present defying the past.  Mom returned it with a half-frown, and my little brother looked at me.  He knew it, too, in that moment.  His chubby face, still padded with baby fat, looked serious. He was no longer looking to me for explanation, but subtle confirmation.  The room was more than pasta sauce, it was a silent war-zone of ravaged hearts and the freezing winds of falling-out-of-love.

I almost wished they would just fight.  But they lost their passion.  Maybe yelling was a sign of lingering love, and they were just clean out.

If I sit here, cross-legged, and face the road, then I can’t see the space in the driveway where Mom’s car used to be.  I mean, it’s still their joint house.  They’re not divorced yet.  But they’re certainly not trying for love anymore and the place behind my back is certainly not home anymore.

I look back up.  Maybe the night sky could just swallow me whole, if I stare long enough.  Maybe there’s a place for me up there, with all of the other feeble engine-workers, shoveling coal into the fire until their hearts get lighter, savoring the rhythm of everything being the same.  At the end of the day, they’ll sleep right where they know they belong, in a blanket of darkness between the stars right after they set the sun.