For the first time this spring, it feels necessary to slather my arms, shoulders, and neck with sunscreen. Only one plant remains green among the pots of brittle brown stalks. Though I have not watered it once, I feel proud of my contribution, hardy enough to survive three seasons alone up here.
From the rooftop, the neighborhood is quiet. Only two types of sounds reach me: a perpetual canon of birdsongs, each vocalist trying to outdo the last, and the continuous undertone of not-so-distant sirens.
Some of the alarms are the familiar kind—the high-pitched, up and down whir of ambulances, the bellowing blows of firetrucks hauling themselves down Fulton Street. Others sound alien—the slow, steady, increasingly urgent wail I associate with war movies set in European cities.
My focus shifts in and out. Sometimes the sirens seem far away, another person’s problem. But sometimes they are right here, close enough to feel the fear of those going, those waiting, those being taken from their families.
This morning, no noises travel up from the sidewalk; no one yells or laughs into a phone, no dogs bark or growl at one another. There are only the sirens, the birds, a horn honking, the occasional buzz of a fly in my ear. It’s quiet, almost peaceful, but not quite.