Greenpoint Subway Station

The celestial colander.

Illustration: Forsyth Harmon

My eyes hurt from staring at the sun and the moon through cardboard specs. They were flimsy and for kids and looked like a total joke but, as with scissored cereal boxes, they did the job—a crappy thing through which to see something stupidly magnificent: our own black moon slide over a red sun, at two forty four on a Monday afternoon.

An event which was depicted on the specs themselves. Here was the earth in miniature—a jolly one-armed globoid with a face (swathes of the planet effaced by this face! His eyes obliterated Europe and the grin took out the Eastern Seaboard), taking a selfie with his sole, Mickey-Mouse-gloved hand, while being photobombed by the moon and behind him, the sun. Just three good pals, the sun and the earth and the moon, doing it for the lols. The one-armed earth was wearing his own special specs, too, although, disappointingly, these did not bear another, even tinier selfie-taking earth and Co., ad infinitum. I stared at these glasses and their cartoon planetary drama for longer than I stared through them, at the real thing in the sky.

Wearing the special specs, my friends—sitting in a line, agape—looked like something out of a B movie: campy and credulous, like claymation monsters. Down the street a toothless-looking couple flanked a car’s bonnet, on which they’d arranged thirty or so crystals of different shapes and colors. The pair of them waiting there, sullen beside all their crystals, as if for the rapture. The extraordinarily energetic young man wearing vast and downy white wings, jouncing down the street and sending finger tip kisses to the cars that honked and the iPhone cameras that watched. A guy staggering on his own in a welder’s mask. So many grown ups clutching their doctored boxes of Cheerios and Lucky Charms. People holding colanders and marvelling, as if mad. They were marvels, though, the little crescent shadows cast. The term was correct.

The light went strange and crispy and things looked static, even as they moved. I blinked, and kept blinking, even though I knew the effect was the world, not my eyes. I wanted more, of course. I wanted The Path of Totality (intoned in a death metal voice). I wanted screams from the hillsides, Book of Revelations in widescreen 3D. I wanted the world out of joint, but in epic splendor, instead of just this human idiocy of a president staring straight at the sun.

I saw no murmurations of starlings but, later, in the everyday darkness of eleven p.m., I did see you peeing in a subway grate which was in its own way an extraordinary event. I was coming up familiar steps at the end of the day, tired and trudging and there you were to wake me up—crouched and suddenly bashful, in bright clothes and wide eyes and apologies. I failed to communicate to you the number of times I’ve raged at a lack of bathroom. “I’m glad you weren’t a man!” you said. I’m glad of that most days. “They have it easy, right?!” you called after me.

My eyes hurt. A Celestial Event seemed to me the best possible reason for a headache. Nonetheless, a headache was a headache. The earth turned, the great moon passed over the sun and even after a piece of the planet had been plunged into daytime darkness, a person still had to pee.