Moon Blues

The sky was playing games with me last night. The puffy dregs of a storm were blocking the stars, pushed along by a steady wind, and I was lying on my back watching them and finding shapes in the not-clouds, the places where they pulled apart. A star filled camel, a skeleton key, a frigate bird whose body flew faster than its head, changing into a pterodactyl. By the time I was inside brushing my teeth, the last puffs had blown past, and I stared out the window at a clear sky and a full moon, the hills cast in silver light. As I fell asleep, the winds picked up again and the sea turned, roaring in its bed, driving the moon behind another bank of hammering rain and tearing the leaves from the trees.

I thought about the moon last night. It reminded me of other moons I have known. The last several years of my life have rushed past so quickly that sometimes I feel I have not properly mulled over the experiences. I run along like a child on the beach, shoving shells into my bag without looking at them, finding them years later in the corner gathering dust.

Last night, with my toothbrush dangling from my mouth, I was on the beach of Espanola once again. The full moon rose above the lip of the sea, rose behind the silhouette of a shipwrecked prow, with Mildred the frigate bird perched on top. I was walking out over the low tide rocks carrying my fins in my hand, wincing at the scrapes against my bare feet, watching for the spines of pencil urchins hidden purple against the black.

Farther on, and the moon was still rising; I slid into the water. Flashes of green lit around my wake, bioluminescent plankton, green stars below to match the white stars above. The light from the moon was enough to swim by, enough to see the shapes of sleeping fish hanging motionless against the rocks. Sometimes I found a sea turtle dozing on the sand who, waking up, would shuffle up and flap away slowly enough for me to follow for a few minutes, and then with one great snap of the fins be gone into the darkness.

A flutter of white; an eagle ray soaring beneath me. I dove to follow it, pacing the steady wave of its speckled wings until my lungs screamed for air. I rose to the shimmer of the surface, the whistles and squeaks of the seabird colony carrying across the water to where I floated, and watched the shore as a flashlight traced the way to a tent, which lit up at once from the inside like an enormous red lantern, the moving shape of its occupant casting a shadow against the sand.

The sea would turn, and I would head back towards shore, swimming until my stomach scraped the rocks, limping over them until they turned into the soft sand of the beach. The sea lions marked the level of the tide, falling asleep in a line just above the reach of the water. But as the water rose, they would awaken with bawling and snuffling and shuffle further up the sand to fall asleep at the next driest place. I tried this once with them, moving when I felt the waves touch my toes. There was sand in my hair, and eventually my poor old bones no longer found the ground comfortable, but for a while it was a pleasant, if not sound, sleep, and my neighbors were accepting of my lack of fur.

Moon writing - I moved my camera around on a long exposure using the moon as my pen. It took several tries to get it right:

By the light of the equatorial moon I wrote in my journal and read books. It was too bright to look at directly, casting shadows as strong as daytime here in Oregon, and it seemed to radiate a very un-moonlike heat. I would lie on my back and watch it burn a path across the sky, watch the stars slip positions against the reference point of a bamboo post, and for the first time I could feel myself actually rotating with the earth. So tiny, this little ball, spinning in space, the moon circling around it, tugging the water beneath.

And then I finished brushing my teeth and went to bed and dreamt about London. Some memories are too big to take in all at once.


TSOldtimer said...

What a beautiful post! I was there, for a minute, swimming along side you. Thank you for that. You're a great writer; keep it up!

Monster Library Student said...

Wow Kt, That was amazing. I am afraid of the ocean and you managed to make it beautiful. :)
That was such wonderful writing...TSOLdtimer and I agreed that we both feel inadequate after reading your info.

Kt said...

Inadequate? Nah - Every moment can be amazing if you're in the right sort of mindset. And the ocean... well, what can I say? I have a love affair with the sea. You have to go into it, you know. You have to go beneath the surface. Otherwise, it's nothing more than an unopened book.