Perhaps it is waiting for the moon to draw our attention, but the moon is periodically irascible, as tonight, and has chosen to abandon Mars to the stellar firmament.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
I wander into the dark in search of the peace that only night affords, but the horizon is war and disquiet and I stumble and repeatedly fall, and the ground holds me denying me the sky.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
The plants that have reached for the sun, and borne fruit for months now shrink and wither under his unrepentant eye, and I know a cold foreboding wind will still blow and I will mourn the passing of summer, the season on peace.
Mars has risen in the western sky and Jupiter watches jealously.
First Published in Cerasus Magazine (UK), Issue 3, 2021
We remember the oddest moments of life, the tragedies, the occasional comedy, but mostly the unusual moments that etch themselves into memory in ways you would not have expected. Driving along the mostly deserted road, a moonless night, or nearly so, the Mesa cold and forbidding, not at all reminiscent of the birth to be celebrated by the world the next day, as it had for millennia. The movie was dark and heavy, the meal somewhat the same, dominating the conversation… THUD — a sudden shift left into the oncoming lane, no one, thankfully, oncoming, the door caved in, passengers’ bones checked, none broken, all badly shaken. In the beam of the flashlight, is an elk, sitting off the road, still much alive but shaken, and in the first light of morning, moved further into the scrub, and by afternoon, off into the foothills.
The spider wandered around the corner of the ceiling and wall of the bathroom, one she called a daddy longlegs, although most spiders of my acquaintance have rather long legs using my proportions as a basis for comparison, and it was my task to deal with it.
It was harmless, as are most of his species, and I searched for a way to give him and give us our freedom, here perhaps, a reality, since it is no colder without than within, although the birds in our wetlands might have other ideas about the spider’s impermanence.
I paused, considered the options, and knew this koan would not be answered this day, and I bid my octoped friend farewell, but suggested he consider not trying to bring me into his web.
I have given up on winter, which is to say that I have fled its iron grip, but the memories I have linger painfully in the rods the surgeon carefully screwed onto my spine.
It wasn’t the cold, though it was far from pleasant, but the snow that demanded but also defied being shoveled.
I grudgingly face the job, moving the snow from walk and driveway to lawn and street, and on occasion I’d heed Buddha’s advice and treat the exercise as a meditation.
But even then I’d recall the tale of the monk told to clear the garden of leaves before a great master’s visit, who completed the job and proudly showed the abbot, who agreed, but said there was more thing needed, and dumped all of the collected leaves back on the garden, then said it perfect, and I knew the wind and weather would soon play the abbot’s role.
She isn’t used to the cold, she never will be, and she hates it with the sort of passion she once reserved for people of a different political philosophy than hers. She grew up here, but she left. She has never regretted the departure. She visits only in late spring or in the heart of summer, or early autumn and is here now only for a funeral, which she hates more than the cold this winter. She wishes that the death could have occurred in late spring, early autumn, the heart of summer. She is certain she will die in one of those seasons, or at least in the deep enough south that no one attending a funeral will have to freeze and curse the winter. She has no intention of dying anytime soon, for she has a great deal left to do and some of that clearly involves cursing winter and hating the cold with a passion.
It’s 12 degrees the night air slices through my sweater my teeth chatter. Standing in the lot fetching my cell phone from the glove box my breath congeals around my face a cloud. I look up at the moon snowflakes dancing on my forehead. Luna’s face is shrouded by a cirrus veil, but her eyes are yours her lips soft caressing curl upwards in a smile as yours. I tell her of my love and she whispers her love reflectively in the voice I hear as I curl next to your picture slipping slowly into sleep.