With no Moon there is only still water

I live a strange world where the earth itself seems to disappear. Now and then I hear a bird call, a song that only birds of the Monsoon Jungles sing.

I look about for this phantom and realise that tree lines themselves are hard to find. Now and then my attention surfaces like driftwood on the night sea when I see the damp edges of world. Frogs waylay my path refusing to move out of the way of my scooter, giant snails appear in strange places – absurdly delicate targets in a precarious world.

The only conscious glimpses I steal are on rare days when I’m over the crowded lines of buildings; terraces only intrude on neighbours in this city. On rare rooftops visits I look for the moon. They say that in old Sumerian myths Nanna, the Moon God was the one who birthed the Sun God, Shamash. The reason for this unusual pre-eminence was that in the old days on the Mesopotamian marshes hunter-gathers looked to the Moon more often than they did to the Sun. It was only with sedentary lives that the Sun grew more important.

I think of how wondrously different it must have been to live your life by the Moon, to wander along the Mountain ranges and river banks of the Tigris with Moonlight as a calendar, compass and God. Often I look up in surprised to see that the moon isn’t there, that it has slipped by so quickly while city life seems so frozen in concrete sameness. These years have all felt the same, lost in the slow stream of my own thoughts and the city, I can hardly imagine the Moon transforming so quickly.

In the empty liberation that builds cities there are no more butterflies for caterpillars to turn into, perhaps no cocoons either. No wonder then that the ever changing Moon is difficult to see when the sky is overcast and blotted out. With no cycles of the Moon to sway the tide there is only still water.

A visitor

It’s not a power cut, but the street lights are off. For the first time in a long time shadows steak across the neighbourhood as busy houses are the only source of light.

It is an unusual look for a residential area in a city to have. The absence seems to amplifies the voice of people moving around. Maybe they’re trying to compensate and keep themselves visible. The light and shadows make patterns that mirror the houses and people who live here. In this rare occasion the buildings have gone from the familiar & banal suburban stylings to something eccentric. The concrete moves, jutting, moving, and reaching for highs and lows, breathing in and out according to their builders fancies and wallets. Very strange that an unremarkable street would show so much character.

The stray cats and dogs are bolder in how they scurry about, still quick footed but openly moving in human sight, no longer dodging and ducking below human reach. The wildlife picks up the pace only when humans walk closely but are clearly emboldened. The trees seem to gain prominence, they block off light from houses, their branches and foliage attempting to envelope their sections of the street. When they shudder and rock back & forth, you notice it and feel the life in them.

It is more obviously late, the silence and people retreating inside seem like rare visitors from the countryside. There are maintenance crews, moving slowly from their vans, could I ask them to come back some other day?