Listening to the Moon

by Rachel Creager Ireland

My friend Mark Diercker talks to trees, ghosts, and other, even less substantial, entities. Tonight I walked outside to look for something I might have left in the car and I saw the moon, just a short-clipped thumbnail of a sliver, in the still-blue evening sky. I wondered if Mark talks to the moon? Or rather, does the moon talk to him? What would the moon say, if the moon spoke?

I stood still for a moment, listening. I felt a slight tingling in my chest, and in my forehead. If ever there were a time I would hear the moon speak, it just might be right now. There was a low hum, but I couldn’t quite clear my mind enough to hear much more. Perhaps I heard a few vague words, sister, home, love . . . or maybe those were my own words, projected onto the moment. I smelled an aroma on the air, maybe woodsmoke, or something cooking somewhere, but it passed too quickly for me to identify it. I felt the slight chill of the late-October evening, the time of year when the kids get to play outside until after dark, and they’re having too much fun to go in and get a jacket. I remembered a night like that long ago, sitting on top of a haystack with Wes Jackson’s kids, looking at stars so bright you practically had to squint, listening to coyotes howl. My sister was afraid, but Wes’ older daughter (was her name Laura?) told us they wouldn’t hurt us. I felt completely safe.

Some moments are so perfect I’d like to hang onto them forever. Having watched more than one person dissolve into Alzheimers brain, I never say “I’ll never forget–.” I might well forget everything, my past, the people I love, my own name. But let it be that those perfect, indelible moments can be saved through the deterioration of the physical body, let me carry some little trinket on into the hereafter, saved in the pocket of my soul. The stars, the smell and the scratch of straw, the wail of unseen coyotes, the companionship of people I might never see again, but who, in this moment, were friends.

Did the moon tell me to recall this moment? Or was it just the rambling of my own mind, on my way to look for something I might have left in the car, which turned out not to be there anyway? I’ll come back again, soon, and sit longer with my friend the moon, and listen. Maybe next time I’ll know.