8B – Event Horizon

As the precise band of the Milky Way washes the sky, as Polaris pierces the lilac night sky, Mars passes from peach to rose and hangs in space, seeming to invite a landing, a walk, a look — back to our blue and white earth — with its own Milky Way of clouds swirling above rust-brown continents and blue ocean.  Anja regards the darkened waves, turquoise not an hour ago, which foam and fleck Eric’s swimsuit and half-tanned thighs but he too star-gazes at pinpricks of galaxies whose light reach us from millions of years ago, long after they first appeared.  Far from Manhattan, on the isle of Naxos, in the Greek Cyclades, Gabi chats with a slender Greek boy named Christos, fondly discussing driftwood down the beach of once golden, now cinder-shaded sand.  A fire burns down-beach, Danny’s guitar music jangles from a cassette player, his notes rising and falling like waves, like voices breaking up with the surf’s roll, vaporizing like smoke, then incandescing as night drops a black and white veil over the riot of daylit color.

They took a train from Manhattan to Montreal, flew from Montreal to Paris, from Paris to Athens, sailed from Athens to Crete, from Crete to Naxos, wondering if the law or their past would overtake them.  Now, however, the noise of New York fades with a glimmer of billions of stars far from its steel, sirens and cement.  If night’s veil drops between ourselves and our dawn, how easy, Anja reflects, like rubbing a heel into damp sand, to go blind before one’s life, to crush it and allow the jackals of envy to win.  How easy to climb a tower just long enough to invite hatred to burn it down.  And how futile.

Anja and Eric reveal little to other travelers they meet.  Tourist season has come and gone. There’s a difference between rolling off accounts of countries one sees, of borders one crosses and the experience one actually has, between the fugitive intimacy of travel and the lasting solidarity of survival. Anja pages several astronomy books she bought when they paused in Paris, bemused that she cannot at the same time see the stars and read their names.  But isn’t that how it is — with stars and people?  The tower she will build now will be her own body, on earth time and in earth space, even if she studies the universe, after decades of schooling, to risk becoming a real astronomer.  She will discover her nobility in what Gabi calls their collège à trois.  Their little nucleus.  Now, Anja’s past resembles to her a collapsed star, which she leaves in her wake, sailing past to where light exceeds gravity, past the event horizon, where the future and time, and mere novelty, spin away to reappear, as her fate spreads beneath her feet, in the sand, and on the earth.  She will offer up her old madness as one child offers another a colorful shell, or like a polished stone which could be a precious keepsake or simply a rock, to be discarded for the “jewel in the heart”, solid with her old friend, and new love.