EDWARD BYRNE

 
 
MOONLIGHT IN THE CITY


 

One July evening when I was eleven, 
        not a block from the waterfront, the day 

yet hot, I waited by myself in the middle 
        of a vacant lot and watched as a fresh wash 

of moonlight began to flow over rooftops, 
        and the sky beyond dust-covered billboards 

just started to fill with clustered stars. 
        The splintered grids of far-off apartment 

fire escapes glittered against their backdrop 
        of red brick as if lit by the flick of a switch. 

In this distance, even the paired lines 
        of elevated train tracks, stretching like bars 

along the edge of the shore, appeared 
        to shine, and those symmetrical rows 

of windows on the warehouses below 
        seemed almost to glow.  Warning lights 

pulsed all along the span of that great 
        bridge over the river, as hundreds of bright 

buds suddenly stippled those rippling 
        waters now deepening to the blue of a new 

bruise.  Steel supports wound around 
        one another into braided suspension cables 

dipping toward either end and glinting 
        beneath that constellation still slowly 

showing in the darker corridor overhead. 
        Already, I could see the outlines of lunar 

topography, and I thought of that old 
        globe my grandfather had once given me 

only days before he died—of how 
        I'd felt its raised beige shapes representing 

the seven continents, and of the way 
        he told me heâd been to every one of them. 

Somewhere in the city, summertime 
        sounds÷the high screams of sirens 

and muffled bass thumps of fireworks—
        played like the muscular backup music 

pumping from some local garage band. 
        But I stood listlessly under sharp-angled 

shadows cast by street lamps, among 
        an urban wreckage of broken cinder blocks 

and glistening shards of shattered panes, 
        and I listened to the wind-clank of chain-link 

fencing around that grassless plot of land, 
        knowing that night my father was far away 

again, driving deliveries along an interstate, 
        and my mother was sitting alone at home, 

as were her neighbors, awaiting the first 
        broadcast of a man walking on the moon. 
 
 


[ First appeared in The Greensboro Review


 

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