February 19, 2016

Rooftop Ranges

At fifteen we sat on the rooftops of office buildings,
Buildings glowing temporarily in eternal streetlights
That signaled the nightly abandonment of the offices
By those who knew what they were for,
Leaving the rooftops for we
Who knew what rooftops were for.

We sat with suburban safety behind us.
The rows of sleeping houses,
Set apart from the empty orange industry before us,
Climbed up the hill in a progression
Of shadowy backyards for midnight wandering,
Of warm rooms full of old things and blanketed beds,
Of untold memories nailed to doorframes
And woven into carpets and couches
And written on the spines of books
And glimmering in the light above the stove.

Before us, past the empty orange industry,
Lay the colossally distant silhouettes of mountain ranges
Visible to us at night
Only because of our afternoons spent memorizing their peaks and valleys
From our decks and trees.

We sat there, he and I,
And he spoke of the freedom fighters of his imagined world,
Embroiled in the war for all things beautiful,
And he spoke of two brothers,
Who, though it was never spoken out loud,
Were perhaps us,
Who steered their train across the far-reaching rails
Of that country,
Who rode in airships and slept in highland cabins,
And bled for free and beautiful things
And the right to imagine such countries
And the right to sit on rooftops
Looking at the colossally distant loneliness of mountain ranges,
Dimly outlined below the stars,
Above the clouds.

And in those nights,
When imagined words had truer meanings,
We heard the far-off whistle of the train
Echoing in the valleys,
Between the peaks,
Closer to the stars than to us.

And in the predawn light,
Before the smell of coffee
And the dreary eyes
And the collapsing onto couches and blankets
And being thankful for Saturday,
Before all that,
We saw the outline of an airship
Sailing slowly past the highest peak;
We saw the chimney smoke of a highland cabin
Mingling with the cloud.

We searched for words
And found only silence,
In its wordlessness complete.

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