Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages ~ W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939
It is a jet, crawling low, grinding through the night sky like a threshing machine, creeping closer and closing in.
I open my eyes. The moon is right in the middle of the window pane, hanging like a corn knife. One lone planet sparkles below its blade.
The jet is droning directly overhead now, rumbling and whistling, sluggish above the house. It labors so close it seems to drag its heavy belly along the treetops.
Weary as is seems, it miraculously holds to the air and moves on. The Doppler effect indicates it is scudging away, lowering toward the tiny commuter airport 15 miles off to the south. Its engines diminish to a rumble, then a murmur, then a buzz that is half vibration and half memory. It is that sound in between hearing and not hearing.
I realize that I have been foolish. I realize that I have been listening with great care for the high pitch of rapid descent, for all available hearing space to be filled with an unfathomable impact.
I realize that I have been holding my breath.