The sky tonight is cloudy, which is just as well, because the moon is mostly full and it would only obstruct the view of the stars.
I remember when I dated the engineer, the young man who was too smart for his own good. The first time he came to my house, he brought me a towel, because he heard that I was living the life of a minimalist consumer (a student) and he thought I might need a towel. We took a walk through the forest that day, and I think he was more impressed than I was that we both liked to walk through the forest. There was a skeleton in the woods—dog or deer, I do not know, for it looked too large to be either one. The engineer was disturbed by my curiosity, so I resisted the urge to investigate. I led him to our destination, a place I discovered shortly before, where the water cascaded along the rocks, where I could lie on my back and pretend I was alone and just listen to the water rush and swirl around me, lie with eyes closed, picture the light dancing off the rapid, rippling surface. When my eyes were open, I could see the blue sky, vivid and electric, framed by the tops of trees reaching, with no effort, into my vision, as though they wanted to reach down and rock me gently to sleep. I wanted to lie there for hours, but the engineer pulled me away far too soon. I led him back a different way, this time veering south at the skeleton, so we skirted the forest’s edge, although the engineer did not know it. He thought we were deep in the woods, and plunging deeper, far from my little cabin where his car was parked, his means of escape. I pointed us towards the cornfield. The stalks were short at that time of year, but next to them was a vast grassy field with steadily sloping hills that I loved to run across, and I know the engineer enjoyed running after me. He caught me, pulled me down into the grass, and he laid me there and kissed me. I opened my mouth to him, and his bold hand told me that he wanted to do more, but we were in view of another home and I had no wish to go inside during such perfect weather. After dark, we lay on the grass and watched the stars, the pinpoints of light actually starbursts to me without my glasses. The moon was shrouded in darkness, so the sky was full of those splendorous bursts of light, like orbs—like Van Gogh’s yellow orbs.
I contemplated how short my life was.
The engineer contemplated how short the night was.
And tonight’s sky, with the moonlight painting the migrant clouds purple and grey to contrast the blackness above, hiding the nothingness I’ve contemplated for a lifetime—no mystery, just clouds—with the cold gripping me, not the warmth of that night by the cornfield—
Tonight’s sky is more beautiful to me than the sky I shared with the engineer.