Poet and Moon

In spring, the night sky is as vulnerable and bejeweled as a fledgling debutante. The would-be poet, with longings inchoate, gazes up through tender branches now fluttering small green flags. His heart lifts toward a moon drifting and dreaming as though it had forever to complete its circuit.

The gravitational power of an unfamiliar wistfulness pulls the poet, and his heart flies up and he with it, clutching at stars and sipping falling dew.

In summer, the moon, like an odalisque, rises warm and golden from the bath of waning day and, sure of her charms, rests upon pale evening’s soft divan, riding the night sky to meet the poet.

Moon and poet are lovers now. Their terrible ardor flings the tides against old ramparts, bringing them down; it melts the silver threads holding little stars in place and pitches them screaming through the void.

Poet cries, “This shall last forever.”

Moon sighs and hides her doubts behind a veil of cloud.

In autumn, Harvest Moon burns huge and orange, lit by embers deep within that flare and gutter and flare again, as dying embers do. She casts a lenient eye upon Poet whose familiarity pleases, like a sentimental refrain. In her leniency lies knowledge she cannot share with Poet, about beginnings and endings, about light and dark.

Poet gazes fondly upon Moon. “This shall last forever,” he tells her, his voice thrumming with golden assurance. He smiles an October golden smile.

In winter, Moon wears an icy pallor and tosses diamonds on the snow. Poet no longer flies up to meet her. He is weak and old and saves himself for the struggle ahead. The blood in his veins is cool and slow, while the heart in his breast is still warm and fond, and each evening he steps out his door to send a blown kiss skyward.

Then one night, Poet’s blood stops in its course and his eyes close, the lids heavy with finality. Now, Moon flings down a beam to her old love, and lifts Poet on it. As he lies in her arms, Moon bears Poet across all boundaries. With new eyes, he glimpses the Pleiades in their flowing tunics as they flee Orion. And off there, the rescued Andromeda.

When at length Moon lays him down, she leaves Poet in a world of white, like Moon herself. He lies in a kind of downy basket, surrounded by others in like baskets. He does not recognize this small, wrinkled hand that is his nor the soft flannel that swaddles him.

Women, speaking low and wearing white, move among the baskets tending to one and then to another. Some in baskets cry and struggle because they are hungry or frightened, but many weep for the place they have left.

Poet does not cry, though he is puzzled. Through the window, he studies the dark sky and the milky moon hanging near. Moon…Moon…He has a memory but, like a cloud breaking up, it drifts away in fragments. And now Poet cries for what he can no longer know.