In the end, it always comes down to night, regardless of the moon, if any, it’s faint light drowned by the city’s oppressive glow, headlights, streetlights and once, spotlights painting the sky, traceable down to that new place we don’t wish or can’t afford, would never dare to go. Death is omnipresent, his shadow is at least, but at night he has greater freedom of movement his reaches longer, less random and we claim not to fear the night, the sun assumes we mourn its absence, and this is true at some level beyond our comprehension, but it isn’t the dark, that is their origin and destination, it’s the hour at which we cede control, and that, like the roller- coaster in freefall, is what we so deeply fear
It was scrawled on the back of a grocery receipt, barely legible. Charles H. Boustead Tunnel, fryingpan river. The river is lower case, its capitals dangling by serifs in one of the tunnel grates that constricts the water’s flow.
Outside the full moon is ensnared in the gnarled, barren branches of the white birch. She struggles vainly to break free, but the maple wraps its limbs around her. It is only when she retreats into the earth, covers herself over, that the trees cede their grasp.
When Luna curls against you, is she chilled from the night sky, or does she reflect the warmth of the distant star? Does she press against the shredded satin, wrap herself in the fringe of your kittel? And when she tires of you, does she leave by the rotting, split pine boards through which you, bit by bit, return to the soil to nurture her captor?
I stand outside, shivering under a full January moon. Fading impressions of you are shunted into the tunnel of my memory. I never know where or when they will emerge, what they have gathered, what has been lost along the way. I hope for their return, regardless of form. The Boustead Tunnel carries about 54,000 acre feet of water annually from the river to the Turquoise Reservoir.
The moon has gone past full and as waning as I write, it’s slow retreat hopefully taking with it the burden of winter, that we now must measure in feet, the inches having been heaved up, one upon another. Spring will come soon for a taste of it, for spring is an inveterate tease, preferring to appear only long enough to let the melting snows floor around, and to occasionally into our homes, so that we, maps and markets in hand, pause to dream of the summer which we now doubt will ever appear.
As 33,000 feet, you want the smoothness that experience tells you, the sky will once again deny. Strapped in, you contemplate cursing the gods of travel, but no, they are simply meeting your expectations. Getting this close to heaven was once, she says, a mystical and spiritual experience, but then we transcended all of that with the first step on the lunar surface, overall a small step from one man and a crushing of dreams for all but the great religious cynics of mankind. With clouds below obscuring all you know the sun is mocking, surrounding your dark mood, painting it darker and you begin to hope that the thunderstorm that will greet your arrival can somehow wash away the hesitation of an eternity trapped in a seat on the lowest margins of heaven.
The truly sad thing is not that billions were spent on the voyage to our most distant planet only to discover, on arrival it wasn’t a planet at all, merely a dwarf, a near planet and yet there was no rebate for the downgrade. Life is too often like that, you want a mulligan and all they say is “no returns, no refunds.” No one asked Charon what he thought watching it all as he wandered about knowing he will remain moon for so long as there is someone, somewhere assigning names, unless he grows bored, breaks free and wanders off into being a dwarf planet all his own, after all it’s not like Styx would give a damn – better to be a moon of the first order finally and as for those billions, if you can’t leave the solar system every now and again there’s not much purpose in escaping the atmosphere.
The moon hid from me last night in a cloudless sky, and only a week from full, so we both knew it was there, peeking for a brief moment from behind the old oak in the neighbors yard. It wasn’t the first time the moon had done this, it will not be the last either, I am certain, but I do remember the time in 1970, the heat of San Antonio in mid-summer more oppressive than usual and only the old barracks for the moon to use as hiding place. Yet it hid, and that night I didn’t mind Lying in the base hospital, where the nurses ignored me for the seriously wounded, as they should reading the orders issued that day transferring me to the Reserves as my fellow air policemen in my training squadron were calling home, most in shock, to announce that their plan to avoid Vietnam by enlisting would soon be scattered on the tarmac of Da Nang Air Base.
I was honored to have this recently published in Arena Magazine: A Magazine of Critical Thinking, Issue 162 from Victoria, Australia
This river has for endless time flowed from the distant hills on its winding path to the waiting sea. The river has no need of clocks, cares little whether the Sun, Moon or clouds shimmers on its surface. The river counts seasons as passing moments ever new, ever shifting, and our lives, and our dams are minor diversions. I sit along the banks and watch the clouds flow gently down stream seeking the solitude only the ocean will afford.
I could never understand as a child why the moon was female, the sun always male, and most stars but ours had Arabic names. Now makes much more sense to me, the moon is never one to hog the sky and even when she commands more than her usual space, you only want to stare at her in rapture, while the sun is so vain you can stare only briefly and must look away, and he is as likely to hide or flee when he is most wanted, as a calming, steady presence. As for the names of all the others, they don’t sound like ours, and so we cast them off as aliens to our small, smug world
He watched as the flame licked at the lip of the candle, the wax slowly conceding and falling in, forming the cradle on which the flame danced. He wondered how something as simple as a wax cylinder could have an inherent knowledge of beauty and simplicity and yet he stared at it certain the knowledge was there. He dared not put out the flame for he could not deprive the night of this momentary beauty when it’s love, the moon had chosen to retreat leaving the stars to mock their small, immature brother.