BH: “Why on earth did I say I’d write poetry about the moon? I can’t even see Her for the rain!”
EW: “ You know She’s there though.”
Just as we sit down to admire the full moon, the clouds throw a scratchy woollen cowl over her face. Our faces chafed by winter wind, and bottoms numbing on the cold hillside, we wait. In the fuzzy dullness of her absence, hearts sink to stomachs.
We fill in the void with philosophising. This must have sometimes happened to the haiku poets too, a voice in the dark ventures. Toes encased in tomb-boots kick at the ground, and hands are rubbed together in forced enthusiasm. And when a respectful pause for grieving has passed, it feels safe enough for someone to squeak- Pub then, is it?
My friends shrug, and laugh. They unfold stiff joints, and clamber to their feet. They dust themselves down. They toss their disappointment back over their left shoulders as they trudge away, downhill, to warmer climes.
But I stay.
As their footfalls recede, I push myself further into the icy ground and whisper to the gloomy, vacant sky.
I will not abandon you.
And I wonder… What did the haiku poets do when their party got rained off?
When, even as they laid their plait grass mats on the cold ground, and sat, the fog smothered the moon, and snuffed out its light? Even as its reflection in the pond slipped away between water lilies? What did they do, when, just as their nib made the first scratch on rice paper, a gust of wind spun the cherry blossom from the bough? Or, getting too close to the elegant icicle hanging from the leaf, their warm admiring exclamation of a breath, mist in the air, melted it before their eyes? Or, when the deluge of rain arrived without notice, and soaking the autumn leaves, stole that pleasing crunch from under their sandals?
What did they do?
I screw my eyes closed, purse my lips to prevent chattering, clench my buttocks, and scrunch my toes. Then I stay with what might be, if only I have the faith enough to see. To realise it in myself.
Because I know what the haiku poets did. But it’s not to be said out loud. Grasping that final, fading chink of spectral moonlight with their gaze, they closed their eyes, and dreamed her milky brightness. They held the vision of it close inside. They smelt almonds hearts on the breeze. And clinging for comfort to each other’s arms, they clung too, to their faith. They pushed themselves to remember what they knew.
That however little can be seen, there is always more.
And it is always perfect.
At first, inside me, there are just the darkest depths. The internal scene as gloomy as outside. But I anchor myself to my breath, and remember the haiku poets.
And, after a time, with one intake of breath, (that is no deeper, or shallower than the others), the white orb, minty fresh, flashes in my mind. Catching hold, she rises heavy and indigestible with my rising chest. She is iceberg through my stomach. She is balloon-light in my chest. Then she sails to rest behind my eyelids- a white feather. She finally settles, pure white pearl, between my eyebrows.
In that instant, outside of me, a gust of wind claws at my frame, almost de-seating me from the hillside. I lose my connection to her, and that pearl between my eyebrows judders. She begins to reduce in size, as if she is being sucked away. Ever smaller, until there rests only a pin-prick of shaky white light, threatening to be extinguished. Eyes screwing tighter, nails digging into hands, it is by a force of will that I keep her there. Stop her vanishing.
I will not abandon you.
She hears me, and steadies. She begins to expand. There is a band of heat in my forehead. Blinding light behind my eyes. It spreads through my face. It runs down my neck. It floods my arms, my core, my legs. Until… I am pure, white light. The light traverses my outline. It diffuses outwards through my .skin. It reaches north, south, east and west, touching all corners of the world. Spreading over all. Bathing all in light.
Through the darkest depths.
November 25th 2015