I was taking photos in a zoo once, stalking a lioness, she was agitated, pacing in her pen, she didn’t seem to like the sound of my camera. I got up to the fence and started snapping again. I heard the people scream, I saw the lion hurtle towards me. I lowered my camera in time to see her throw herself against the wire. I hoped it held, and it did. I reckoned that would be the only time I’d see a lion coming for my blood.
I was wrong.
I lay down for the second time tonight to sleep. The haunted lamp on the bookshelf goes out, kindly enough. The lamp has been in the family for as long as I can remember. For as long as I can remember, it’s turned on and off at will. It’s a very old oil lamp, converted to electric. We had the electric switched out. It still does it.
For the second time I find sleep impossible. The mind is racing, too many scars breaking open and bleeding. I give up and get up from my couch. The haunted lamp switches back on.
I haven’t been outside in a while. The moon is shining bright I know … a cold night and the sky is going to be clear. I’m hiding from it. It’s full tomorrow, the super moon. It’s the closest it will be to earth this year. I know the goddess who lives on the moon. It is to her I have ran afoul.
“It is the very error of the moon; She comes more nearer earth than she was wont, And makes men mad.” – William Shakespeare
Hecate, Selene, Luna, Artemis … she goes by many names through the ages, for she is indeed ageless. But I know as her as Hecate. I’ve looked in her eyes. I swore a vow to her. “Let us be Diana’s foresters, gentlemen of the shade, minions of the moon,” I dove into the role for it was the one I was born for. Once she had need of me, then I became a burden. I tried to break the vow to free us both. You can’t break a vow to a goddess with immunity. You find yourself cast down.
There is an abyss which I know well. I’ve been here before. It is to be outside of sight of her, no sign whatsoever, not even her shadow reaches here. Out of earshot of her voice. Exiled to the depths, as though I never existed. It’s my own personal hell, specially built by the one I loved. My worst nightmare made incarnate.
I tell time in full moons. It’s a curse she left me with, a reminder of how long we’re apart. I can see it from here, the one light that reaches me. The moon will still be going through its phases till the end of time. I get a notion I’ll be seeing all of them for in her own way, she made me immortal.
Now that the gates to that life are closed, the moon sails through its phases, because each one takes me further from her. I hold onto the fabric of time till my nails bleed, but it pulls me along all the same.
Those moons behind me were colored by magic. Those that lie before me are colored by longing.
A week ago tonight I was untangling the threads that bound me to her, an act I was sure would finally set me free. Then I awoke to find my attempt at unravelling the strands to break free only tightened them around me. I had let go of all the bad, all the anger and frustration. That left room for the good. That was a mistake. It was opening the flood gates. It had been a year since I was last facing this moon. I forgot how much it hurt.
I had forgotten how much I loved her.
A song came on and I recognized it instantly.
It is for me the eventual truth
Of that look of the lioness to her man across the Nile
You can’t get here fast enough
I will swim to you
Whether you save me
, Whether you savage me
Want my last look to be the moon in your eyes
Want my heart to break if it must break in your jaws
Want you to lick my blood off your paws
– Jason Molina
I loved it. For the first time he said what I was feeling. And for the first time I understand the pain inside her, for even a goddess can feel pain. Tonight I felt it, and I hope somehow she’s free of it, and I’ve shouldered the burden. It should be mine to bear, because I committed the mortal sin. I gave the goddess hope.
The moon shines through the window and finds me. It inevitably does. When it’s full I tend to just not go to bed. Otherwise it finds me through that window.
Roused by the shock I started from my trance
The cold white light of morning,
the blue moon low in the west,
in the clear and garish hills.
The distinct valley and the vacant woods spread round me where i stand.
Whither have fled the hues of heaven that canopied my bower of yesternight?
My wan eyes gaze on the empty scene as vacantly as ocean’s moon looks on the moon in heaven.
Does the dark gate of death conduct to thy mysterious paradise, o sleep?
Does the bright arch of rainbow clouds and pendent mountains
seen in the calm lake lead only to a black and watery depth,
while death’s blue vault with loathliest vapors hung,
where every shade which the foul grave exhales
hides its dead eye from the detested day?
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
The waxing of the moon is the hardest. It’s like staggering up a mountain, carrying the fucking moon myself. It’s knowing that dreaded tolling of the lunar bell is growing closer, bong bong bong … another month gone. Another month that her heart has grown colder to me.
The breaking free last week failed for a simple reason. You can’t break free from yourself.
The world is getting darker as the sun completes another round. I see something of beauty shining in the darkness and run to it, desperate for light. But the lady waiting there takes off her mask and once more I look into the eyes of the goddess. There is no escaping her.
Her mortal incarnation even made an appearance this week. It didn’t hurt, it wasn’t intended to. As a mortal she doesn’t see her own divinity. I knew it was a fleeting visit, once she had what she needed she was gone again. It’s what I expected, and it’s not her fault. It’s her instinct – when you touch something hot, you jerk away. She runs. Goddesses don’t stick around when they decide they have to leave. They just go, and mortals can’t keep up. I used to chase, but there are beasts in the forest now, and they’ve smelled my blood, and I’m tired.
She is ice, I am ash. This is the price mortals pay to look into the eyes of the goddess. It was worth it. Broken and bleeding is a small price to pay for having seen the moon in her eyes.
One more cycle of the moon to get through before it starts to lighten again. The darkest one yet. In the meantime it grows darker, colder. So I steel myself for another month of this, more dread for this month than any I’ve yet faced.
If only it were just a river, I’d swim it through the cold, just to be mauled by your paws.