Outside my window

My west-facing window is divided in two. The north side slides laterally. I don’t think the panes or the frame are original, but the external setting contains some old wood indeed: it’s so weather worn it’s almost not there at all. It’s a bundle of splinters that continue to associate from habit.

The south, fixed side of the window is on the outside. The moving side is backed with a screen, and has a permanent smudge which covers over half its area in a vertically elongated diamond shape; in combination with the screen behind it makes a double distortion. At night, the center of this area glitters and the streetlights beyond grow fuzzy spring dandelion heads.

The other pane is still dirty, but clearer. I can see downtown Portland and the west hills, and Morrison Street falling away to the river. My whole building shakes whenever a bus or a large truck goes down this hill, and my windows give a faint rattle. I can’t help imagining a hollow underneath my hill.

I almost feel a little ground washing away, a hundred feet beneath me, every time I flush the toilet or unplug my bath. I get a grainy, gravelly flavor in my mouth, like a taste of the unreliable sediment down below. The thought of my perch, bricks, wood and all tumbling away beneath me, all except that which clings to a skeleton of pipes, is enough to keep me from using the water, or stirring from my seat.