street lamps

There's a street light outside your house I keep mistaking for the moon. It's the right color and shape, and it's in the right place in the sky. Every time I leave at night I see it hanging there and for a brief moment I'm ready to smile, to feel as if the moon is guiding me home. I always identify it soon enough, of course, and it could never guide me any further than the street.

Tonight I found myself wondering if you were to blame, as if you had set this up to punish me for my wanderings. Perhaps if I didn't slip away once you were asleep, this false moon wouldn't be here to mock me. Or maybe you set it up to keep me here. Did you hope I would circle it like a moth, captivated by its soft cold light? Does it worry you that I have never woken up next to you, that I leave you alone in the dark to find my way home?

But tonight the false moon was not false. The street light hung in the air above me even after I had walked past it, as if you had planted a real moon there--and it must have been you, right? Who else could have, and who else would have? I was so startled I considered running back and waking you up, asking whether you were trying to send me away or guide me home. But as I stood and stared at this strange new moon, I realized the distinction was largely semantic. Either way my path was laid out before me, and my steps would take me back home.

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