New York City, June 5, 2016
★★★★ The daylight came up weakly and slowly, like a muffled and ignorable alarm clock. The four-year-old had a fever and would not be going to the scheduled birthday party. The clouds redarkened and a fine blowing rain came, then a blinding white downpour, right when the four- and newly five-year-olds were supposed to have been out on the Intrepid. The blinding white downpour ended and left a blinding white fog. Even as the afternoon seemed to brighten again, the fog clung to the tops of the towers by the river. Neither opening nor closing the windows could dispel the stuffiness. The dryer beeped and beeped, choking on wet lint. A mango delivered from the chill of the grocery truck was slick with condensation. Bacon sweated fat in the pan and the face minding the bacon sweated sympathetically. The wind cut through the part-opened blinds with the harsh startling buzz of a too-large insect. A moment later the building started moaning, and in a few more moments rain hit the windows hard. Soon sheets of it were slamming into the glass, over and over, with such violence that what might have been a rumble of thunder reached the ears as an afterthought. The storm rushed away as abruptly as it had come on, and then, after a gray interlude, the sun came on as shockingly as the rain had—in dazzling clear beams, bouncing from window to window, or setting a glow to things scattered throughout the darkened landscape: individual building faces way off in New Jersey, tree branches down on 70th Street, orange construction mesh in the heights of new construction downriver. The whole west was blurry and luminous, with colors superimposed and bleeding through one another, and through the shapeless brightness, little clouds like white jellyfish went trailing northward. More and more clouds passed, in every available color and illumination, pink ones near and silver ones far, and dark purple ones after. Magenta ridges ran along the bottom of the westernmost surviving stratus. The last daylight stayed and stayed, liberated and still mutating, through lemon into blue and on into subtle browns. The illuminated interiors of the apartments, one after another across the building faces, seemed to imitate the fragmented and changing glow above. Out in the night, after full darkness had come, every few feet along the planters carried the slightly different smell of different vegetation charged and battered by the rain. In the lamplight, the new-sprung tips of the evergreen trees were as pale as paper.