David… Why Do You Hate the Moon?
Does it sadden you to know that you have never had a small step on the moon? You could recreate a false landing of your own, if you feel so inclined. To gloat over the Soviets and their insufficient rocket power. Allowing you to visit the giant rock in the sky, As if there weren't enough small moons on Earth as it is. Would it be easier to create a shrink ray? Making you about the size of an ant, Where a blue marble was the Earth, and you finally realize the vastness of the universe. Would you miss it -- if you went to the Moon? Leaving the embrace of gravity, to visit the glittering constellations, discussing the solar sytem with the sky, to land just once upon the Moon. The Moon does not know you, yet, you still feel their pull, as though you were made of nothing but water. Why do you want to get into a one-man rocketship? Alone. by Devin Wilson
THE LYCANTHROPIC ASTRONAUT
OK, sure. I’m afraid of the moon. But not afraid like you might be afraid of, say, stage-four cancer, or a rabid dog, or a strange noise in the night. These are things that are terrifying. Because they’re anomalies – they aren’t supposed to happen. These are things you can’t allow yourself to imagine until they’re right there, in your life, tearing through your bloodstream with the sharp teeth of shock.
The moon? The moon is an inevitability. It’s wax to wane in just about thirty days – so there’s nothing terrifying about it. I guess you could compare it to death, and I guess you could say that the inevitable can be terrifying, but is it really? I mean, the things that lead to death, or the process of dying – the invisible slip of a cluster of cells from membrane to lymph node, the choking snarl and the pounding paws, the gloved hand slipping over your sleeping mouth – these are the little nightmares that make death appear so frightening. But death is just, well, death. Full stop. The end. Inertia.
No, death isn’t scary. But I am afraid of the moon.
Have you ever seen something that doesn’t make sense? I mean, have you ever seen or experienced something that, no matter how hard you try, can’t possibly be explained? Like you bumbled into the frayed edge of the world, gave it a tug, and gained a glimpse behind the curtain and all that was revealed was chaos? OK, maybe that’s making it out to be more melodramatic than it was. How about: Have you ever seen a ghost?
Well, what’s a ghost, anyway? Is a ghost made from a person? Is it like some sort of permanent fart, released like the soul’s ether to lurk and haunt a place or person in particular? As in Hamlet, does it drive the living flesh toward revenge? Does it cease to rest until its bones find their way to holy ground?
I don’t know. What I saw, what I call a “ghost,” didn’t seem to be much like a person at all. I mean, neither was Casper, I suppose. And neither is a bed sheet with three holes in it. But there’s a difference between what I saw and something so quaint and spooky. It is the difference between sharing a polite nod with a stranger on the sidewalk and the electric freeze that thrills through you having locked eyes in the forest with a wild animal.
That’s basically what happened. It’s not a terribly interesting story, but it’s among the strangest things that I’ve ever experienced. Awakened in the night by my dog, snarling and barking fiercely: Danger. Danger. Not her normal vocal range, neither playful nor peevish. Something outside, something cornered outside, outside the tent. I unzipped the flap, saw her ears turned out and flat, hackles bristled, crouched toward the old blue Chevy sport van, everything lit in a haze of moths beneath a repurposed street light. A warm night in July.
Well, that’s the picture. You don’t need to hear all of the details. The point is, my life changed that night. I knew, from that point on, both that there is much beyond knowing and that it is possible to get a peek over the wall of what is known.
Now do you wonder why I clamber into my solo module? It’s due both to the nature of my fear and to the uneasy frisson of seeing something new. The nature of my fear: the regular, the inevitable, the everyday, the reliable and inescapable tidal pull of that great orbital rock. And to see something new, it must be embedded within that gravity of normal time: it must grate at the smooth weave of your favorite pillow, moon-round, interrupted by a shard out of place.
In my space suit, in my capsule, I follow that slow terror, the inevitable arc of some math wizard’s trajectory. And from within this isolation wrapped in isolation, I am both sets of eyes in the forest, both human and other-than; keen, unblinking, and yellow I goggle back behind reflective glass.