The moon doesn’t cast its own light. It’s one of my favorite things on earth, or rather, not earth, but…you know. I never thought of it as not having its own light. I started reading Mary Ruefle’s collected lectures on Monday night. It happened to be a full moon and I was walking home from the bookstore where I’d picked up Madness, Rack, and Honey and I was eager to start something new after having just finished Karl Ove Knausgard’s My Struggle (which was, for me, a struggle. Not in getting through it, but the realness of it…but what does that say about me???). Whenever there’s a visible moon in Brooklyn, I look up and say, “Hi, Dad.” He used to drive us hurriedly from our house to the top of Route 11 when he got home from work. He’d caught a glimpse of the moon on his drive home and we just had to see it. So we’d sit in his truck and watch the moon come up over Mt. Kearsarge. That’s part of us. Sometimes we would just miss it. It came up so quickly.
This night, though, in Brooklyn, I also said hello to a man I love who is no longer in Brooklyn. That’s the first time I’ve done that. I got home after this walk and got into bed. I opened up Mary Ruefle, skimming the titles of her lectures. Number two, Poetry and the Moon. I had to laugh at the cliché of it. But I also loved the romanticism of this happenstance, and got a little weepy as I tend to do. Ruefle talks of a lunar holiday that is celebrated in China, an evening of food and drink that she was a part of during her time living there, “The Chinese look at the moon and think of some family member or loved one who is not present, and know that on this same evening the absent one is reflecting on them,” and I closed the book. It must be true.
The world reflects back onto you what you are, maybe. We don’t cast a single light; in fact, I’m not sure that’s possible. I want to take more care.
In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway recounts his time in Paris as happy and poor, but happy. A time when he was discovering his voice and what he really wanted. On this particular morning in one particular story he set out on his normal routine. He grabbed a newspaper. He ate a croissant, I think. He went back to his small apartment to his young wife after a day of adventure. And by nightfall he felt different, “But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
What is it about the moon?