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Telescope on Brooklyn Sidewalk

High Holy Days 2023

“Telescope on Brooklyn Sidewalk,” first published in The Atlanta Review

Poem written by Wendy Drexler, used with permission from the author

It was dusk, the street corner buzzing like a hive,
a telescope there on the sidewalk, its giant eye
tilted toward the moon. I stopped, marveling,
moved closer—a man gestured with his open palm,
have a look. I lowered my eye to the lens,
which was as private as a peephole, peered down
the tunnel, risqué and mine alone to enter.

I recoiled at the blast—there were craters close enough
to swallow me, and where the waxing crescent
curved away it was like walking into the valley
of the shadow of death, and the whiteness, stark
and scarred, was blinding, a comfortless cold,
all that light coming from the other side of the world
where the sun hadn’t yet set.

That moon, I tell you, was dazzling and terrifying
and desolate—not one tree or garden or fountain,
no bees or tigers or bodegas selling milk or cracked
concrete cooling into the night, no cars or car radios
blasting, no mercury or corroded lead pipes or any
of the other things that are killing us or being killed by us—

my god, that moon filled my every pore and I dove
into silence. And when I ripped away my eye, I was
jolted by the shudder of air around my shoulders,
people swirled by, every shade of flesh—pink,
nutmeg, chocolate—and I was caught like a fastball
in the din and swell of strangers I was back among—
my intimates, my very own sweet kind.