Parallax: if you stare at the moon and close one eye and then the other, the moon will move, flickering back and forth in your vision. I know this will happen with other objects but I have only ever done it with the moon. An hour south of Roanoke, traffic creeps to a standstill. My GPS directs me to exit the highway. I don’t know if there’s a word for the way the interference of a window screen and other lights fragment the image of the moon: the real moon, outside, and then two translucent reflections in the glass. I remember my mom lifting me up so we could watch a lunar eclipse out the window. I didn’t understand what an eclipse was, so I fixated on those hazy half-reflections. Late at night, I’m waiting for an open table in a crowded Denny’s. The interstate still a river of red brake lights, everyone making their way back up the coast from whatever spot in the path of the solar eclipse they managed to find. Once in college I laid flat on my back on the pavement outside my dorm staring at a streetlight. Later I wrote bad poetry about how I couldn’t see the moon past the glare of it. At the counter of the Denny’s I talk to a long-haired guy in sandals and his girlfriend with a nose piercing. They were in Kentucky. I tell them I was in Georgia, 97% totality. Wide-eyed, maybe stoned or maybe just amazed by the universe, he asks, “What did that feel like?” I’m exhausted and sunburnt and I know he wants something metaphysical. “Cold,” I say. We put a thermometer in the driveway, watched the temperature drop. “And flat. All the shadows were gone.”
Caroline Miller is a poet and essayist who writes about art, landscapes, and femininity. She has an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Wyoming and her work has previously appeared in Gordon Square Review, Yellow Arrow Journal, and elsewhere.
Photography by: Tyler Clemmensen