- Mock Moons, Metaphor, and Memory
One night, unable to sleep, I watch an autumn moon framed in my bedroom window in Michigan. It pauses, large and luminous, as if hovering just the other side of the glass. I am startled: I haven't noticed the moon for a long time, haven't followed its journey across its home in the night sky. Now seemingly so close, so intimate, I almost believe, if I breathe deeply, I'll be able to smell it. I sense it—cool blue heavy—anchoring the sky, anchoring me, with blue dreams of the universe.
But the moon is not blue.
What color, objectively, is it? I wonder. Dark white? Gray white? I try to remember facts about the moon. What information, discovered by NASA astronauts, have I read in newspapers and magazines? What pictures have I seen beamed from its surface? I think about getting out of bed, switching on my computer, Googling "moon" to see what data can be retrieved—not from my personal observed space—but from cyberspace.
I do not get out of bed. I realize I don't want objective information about the moon. All that matters is what the moon means to me. Shouldn't I rely on the observation of my own senses instead? After all, why search for scientific evidence of "moon" when I have this—right outside my window?
Now, as the hour grows later, most of the moon shines in one pane of glass, the remainder in another. In this split image, a glimmer of reflected light leaks behind the orb, causing a fuzzy boundary, blurring perception, so that I observe one large moon trailed by a smaller one, this slur of moon a mock, yet more enchanting, than the moon itself. For it is a personal moon that only I can see in the glass of my own window.
I want to feel this moon. I want to touch it. Taste it. Since it is now my personal moon, I imagine it a blueberry-freeze marble or a sweet chunk of rock candy, cool as blue ice. I wonder why, when I see or imagine the [End Page 71] moon, my synesthetic heart feels the word "blue"? I allow my mind to unfocus. To drift. To journey where sensory association, personal metaphor, lure me, flowing from image to image: from moon, to heart, to lonely heart, to empty nights, to blue nights, to blue moons. Unhinged, my memory floats to specific moments when the moon and my heart blued.
In this late-night, semidream state, it is as if I tumble out my bedroom window here in Michigan, a window of time, to be imaginatively cast into other places. Other times. I travel backward. To childhood. To adolescence. To other nights. I feel a yearning to understand all my moons. I feel a need not only to search for other moons but, more importantly, to discover why a blue moon seems a metaphor that links particular sections of my life together. What does "blue moon" mean to me?
The only way to discover the answer to this question is to write. So I pick up my pad of paper, letting my mind drift. I follow lines of words, luxuriating in billowing strands of connotative memory, as I travel from this moon in Michigan to nights that still linger in shadows of my mind. In order to know what blue moons mean, to understand the importance of this image, to discover the metaphors, I have to write and see where I am led.
On Caribbean nights, as a young island girl in the West Indies, I watch the moon darken with arcing branches of royal poinciana and frangipani trees. The Caribbean moon blues with reflected water from the viridian and turquoise sea. My mother, ill, left me for hospitalization in the States, far away. Lying in bed in a froth of mosquito netting, in a room with open shutters, the cool eye of the moon watches me, watches over me, through long, blue tropical nights. I reach toward it, imagine I grasp it. I am tugged by it, along with the tides...