When I was a kid, if I needed a place
to let my mind idle, our garage roof,
on the slope facing away from the house,
offered privacy and enough discomfort
to soothe my conscience: the shingles
were always too hot or too cold and hard.
From the garage roof, I could see stories
in the clouds above my head: rabbits chasing
foxes, a gnome leaping, a platter of ham
and mashed potatoes, always mashed potatoes,
heaps and heaps of them—which, fortunately,
I adore: dripping with molten butter. Hunger
was a side effect of lying on the garage roof—
but I was going to tell you about what scared me.
I was lying on my side, feeling hungry, and was
about to roll onto my back to begin standing,
when I began to wonder whether I would roll
onto roof or the ground fifteen feet down.
I could not remember what was behind me:
was it empty space? Logic told me that
I would never lie with my back that close to the
edge; panic told me I could not trust my memory.
That instant of debate was my first taste
of old age.