An Age of Miracles

by Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates

He walked to the window
stared down twenty stories to the street
gaseous and dizzy as a swamp
not visible at this height
but there had been a street down there
and he knew

It came with the apartment
and the guarded foyers and halls
and the doorman
beneath the uniform
the television split-screening
front and rear entrances

He knew it was all there
and he was here twenty stories above
the unsetteled swamp-mist
he knew the trucks bound for the bridge
were still passing near
he could feel them rumbling
in the soles of his feet
so he knew

the floor he walked on
was someone's ceiling
and it was all normal tonight
and countable
a two-year lease because
a desirable
with full view of
a five-by-three balcony through the door is
$200 deposit
fully carpeted
self-defrosting refriger-
the balcony door is stuck but
He can stare twenty stories down
from the windowsill
watching the swamp smokes curl and thin
and the swamp lapping at the base
and the unpaid-for miracle
one inch at a time

Last updated September 26, 2022