Today I felt the curve of the earth.
The horizon bowed at my feet.
“You see that?” The old man was talking, breaking the silence in which we had until then uncomfortably existed, amongst the smells of leaky exhaust and ancient leather. “That’s where you want to be.” I looked, but couldn’t see anything important. “Up there, boy! On the wire.” He pointed.
“The birds?” I had no idea what he was talking about. The light turned green.
“The ones on the wire.” There was a flock of birds in the median. Most of them were on the ground, pecking and eating and jumping – busily doing bird things. Some of them, about twenty or so, had perched high above the rest on a phone line. “That’s where you want to be,” he repeated, “up outta the shit. Up where you can breathe.”
I looked at my grandfather – really looked at him – and for maybe the first time in my life I saw him as the person he was. Not as an occasional giver of money and interminable stories, but as a flesh-and-blood human man. A man who had scraped and fought his entire life to live in his own tiny house in the poor part of a town that had grown up around him. A man who should own the respect I had never thought to give him.
A horn sounded behind us. “Grandpa? The light’s green.”
“Ah shit,” he said, and stepped on the gas – too hard. The old truck lurched, stalled, and coughed to a stop. “Go around!” he yelled, waving his hand out the window. He laughed, and looked at me. “What was I talking about?”
“Oh yeah.” He turned the key, the engine sputtered to life and we continued on. “Birds.”
We finished the drive in a very different kind of silence than the one in which we had started.
Gravity’s weight had me defeated,
and the core of the earth – I could feel its heat.
-Attack in Black