Jerk with binoculars finds wonder

There’s a house on my block that’s being rebuilt, a new plywood and lumber skeleton on the same foundation.
I walked the dogs at midnight, just down the block and back. From across the street they barked at the dark construction site. On the old front stoop I saw a slow cigarette smoked by a man in shadows.
This is not a street of trespassing midnight smokers. One theft down the block last month. At home, I called the cops.
They came in minutes. From my rear terrace, hiding in darkness, I saw three police talking to one guy. I went to my house and got binoculars. 8×42, a good pair. Yes I am now a creepy neighbor, but at least I was dressed. A man in a clean white polo shirt talked gamely to three police. Probably working in the basement. I felt a little bad. The police stayed a while, ten minutes and more, the man talking and talking to them. The longer the police stayed, the more illicit it all felt. I stopped watching.
In my stealthy dark, Orion hung in bright points on our city’s indigo skies. I looked through my binoculars and saw wonders. Orion’s sword is not three stars, but three pairs, separated by fractions of a degree, a lovely crystalline needle. Around the needle, hundreds of tiny points with presence and color and depth. Space, like a dawn in my head.
To the east, Jupiter had risen above the trees. My hands’ small shaking smeared it in wavy orange lines like Arabic, bright enough to leave afterimages. I alternated between Jupiter and the dark of Orion’s sword, learning to hold the binoculars still. For a beat, a pause, a half-second — Jupiter’s topaz sphere, magnificently big. Above and below it, on a neat line from one- to seven-o’clock, the four largest moons. I felt like I was flying toward them, only minutes away.
I will be using binoculars more often. Tonight in a mere twelve degrees of sky, the width of two thumbs at arm’s length, I saw a giant planet with its own moons, a trio of paired stars.
I did also get some working guy hassled by police.
The police eventually left.

About Admin

Anthony Dobranski Posted on

Novelist, writer, game designer, skier.


  1. My mom lives way out in “no lights to disturb the night sky” land (yes, that exists in Maryland). Last weekend, I got to see the double stars in Orion with the naked eye, and they were stunning. Orion has been my favorite constellation for decades, and I always like seeing him when I’m out with the daig at Mom’s at night.

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