I have seen them from inside and outside.
Modern and ancient; clean-lined and ornate; translucent and opaque; smooth and mottled; wood and stone; blindingly clean, sealed and soundless. Noisily battered with rain or softly thunked by quarter-sized flakes of soft snow, plastered by high winds with soaked brown leaves. In large geometric planes and swirling leaded glass; clear, colorless, and bursting with every hue. Still and empty and alive with interior light and celebration. Below ground and at dizzying heights. Midnight black reflecting licks of sunset’s roaring, angry yellow and vermilion, and casting grey stone into magenta, as if a city is burning not far away.
I’ve seen my own ghost reflected in them, my skin outlined in orange and my hair sun-tipped bright copper as I contemplated the outdoors nearly every day, in every season.
I have pressed a febrile forehead against their cool glass in winter, watching a bright cardinal at the birdfeeder whose tender was gone.
I’ve looked through openings in ancient castles and beheld the same framed views as did people centuries ago, and as will people hundreds of years from now.
I’ve taken photographs out the windows of planes, trains, automobiles, and boats–and even a football-shaped capsule in one city’s towering “Eye.”
I once shattered one with a stapler.
In three seasons looked out through hermetically-sealed hospital windows while post-surgically cradling four newborns swathed in soft cotton. I saw and felt winter from similar windows inside four different hospital rooms during their father’s last weeks.
In front of our babies’ windows, sills held pastel cards and baskets of bright color: coral and yellow roses, wildflowers, plants with blue bows. The wide white sills inside the other hospital’s rooms, outside of which I can only remember snow and rain, held books, yellow legal pads and pencils, and paperwork indented from being clenched in my hands during each emergency admission: advance directives, instructions for anatomical donation.
I believe in Shakespeare’s poetic characterization of eyes as “the windows of the soul, and by extension the soul itself.” But my favorite metaphorical windows are found in a poem about New York City.
Poet Jessica Greenbaum used a city’s windows as a metaphor for the vastness of immeasurable love. In “I Love You More Than All the Windows in New York City,” she wrote: