Thursday, March 7, 2013
Caught Between the Sun and Moon
The cold earth would not remember him. That was left to me.
Alone, I sat on his grave; bewilderment and anger filtered through packed soil. A dirt fractured voice, I heard, betrayed by flesh and desire. His one true love lay between us solid and silent, encased in steel and satin. They were forever. He would never abandon her, though she died without him. Their decades together stretched through molecules of silica, clay, and carbon. I was always outside—a part, but not really. I was simply an idyll, an occasional intrusion, to be cherished or ignored, when what I wanted was to be the rift in the continent of their love.
It started before I could remember. It always was: my world between his Sun and her Moon. I became a tide. High and low, pulled and released between orbits.
When I was with the Moon, she was cold and remote. Phases were her moods. She was full when we went to the movies. She held my hand as I leapt from bench to bench in the park while we waited for the Sun. After I pushed her away to cross the gaps unaided, she nursed my sprained wrist.
The night was her time. She sang: “La-le-lu nur der Mann im Mond schaut zu, wenn die kleinen Babies schlafen, drum schlaf auch zu.” She sang in a language she swore she did not speak, if you asked in daytime. As I dreamt, alone in her twin bed, she disappeared. The days were waning.
The dark Moon wandered the house. She searched. Things went missing, photographs and money put in drawers and beneath cushions. She forgot where she was and who we were. Over and over, she would sit with me and tell me of her childhood: of riding next to her father in a carriage on a crisp winter day, of teeth, lost when she was fourteen. Her dentures smiled from a jar each night.
He was the day. Hot and commanding, though his love was winter-cold. I could not touch his adoration of the Moon. I became a release from his vigilance. The Sun could be kind. He bought me gifts, listened to my stories, my loud music. He drove me places. I was special. There was something within me that was needed. He ignored the others. But, his need and anger scalded.
In my absence, they had each other. Only each other. The routine of their days diminished as they cycled through ages. Without me, they ate breakfast at the small table. He had his bran, she sometimes gummed toast. They wandered through the remaining hours with crossword puzzles and television. At night he slept while she wandered. He cared for her, nurtured her, made sure the doors were locked before dark. The Moon was locked inside at night.
I learned to stay away. I grew old enough to shun her chill and deny his heat. I imagined a life far from their gravity, a place where I could command my own Sun and become a new Moon. There was a day when I revealed my wounds, laid bare the invisible puckers of scar and charred flesh. Flaunting my damage, I longed for escape. It was a dream. Once caught within their orbit, I was always drawn back.
Later, I visited when forced, gibbous with adolescent righteousness, pretending to be a tepid stranger, unscarred and whole. Never again, would I linger on the edge of breakfast at the small table. I was too big for the Moon to rock to sleep. I freely spoke the language she forgot. The Sun no longer listened to my stories or brought me gifts. I could drive myself.
Still, he burned. Occasionally, across the crowded dining table, I met his eye. Sometimes I was defiance, he was the question. Or vice versa. He sat at the head, I at the foot. The Moon sat between, an arrangement as natural as rain.
Gradually, the Moon forgot the day. A night-time world embraced her as she drifted through the dark. The Sun learned to cook. He coaxed her to eat. When she wandered, he watched. When she finally slept, he retired to his room. She asked for nothing, locked in her own nocturnal orbit. He gave her what she needed.
The day they said the Sun was fading, I laughed. His defective heart sputtered. The others were angered and disgusted; they left me alone with my guilt. No matter how scarred, I was required to care. I knew he would shine once more. He would fight against his traitorous heart for each beat, if only, to be able to lock the doors before dark. For his Moon, who needed him.
In his absence, the Moon escaped; half-dressed, she roamed, lost in the driveway. I sat with her through the night, listened to her speak of carriages and snow, spoke to her in the language she forgot. I tucked her into the small bed as the Sunless day dawned. She slept while I locked the doors.
When the Sun left forever, the Moon waned and followed. He was buried first and deeper. In death, she guarded him, locked between him and the sky.
My wounds severed me from their world. As I sat on the unforgiving ground, I offered only tears to the earth that now kept them, leaving my scars to rot beneath the dirt.