Life Goes On Beneath a Harvest Moon

The moon is golden as it rises above the craggy bluffs of an Ozarks hill.  I sense its tug on me as I gaze upon its radiance, its fullness on a November night.

My temples seem to throb with the distant heartbeat of that harvest moon.  There is a rhythmic pulse to the blood flowing in my veins as if I were a part of the ocean, and my blood the racing tide.

The oak trees, the black walnut, box elders, cherry and pecan trees are skeletal stick figures in silhouette before the hauntingly beautiful skyline.  There is not a sound from the woods surrounding me at my table next to the deserted garden.  There is only the trigonometry of gravity and the breeze that jostles the dried cornstalks, makes their brittle bones rattle and rustle like a room full of whispering women at a nocturnal tea party.

My heart takes up the measurements and the threnodic beat of wind waves at the eaves of my lamplit cabin huddled in the darkness like an empty library, with its books and sheets of paper littered with poems and finished chapters of a novel.

There is a quietude to the evening as I gaze up the hill with its dusty road, the shadows of dormant vegetation pulsing, stretching and shrinking under the pewter light of the rusty moon.  There is solace here, and contentment such as comes on cool nights with winter’s breath seeping through its frosty teeth.

The work is done, the supper dishes washed and put away in cupboards.  The house creaks and squeaks in soft syllables as the temperature slides downward on red skis.

The sweater helps to buffer those gelid rivers of air streaming off the top of the gaunt gray bluffs and I think of words to paint my feelings at this time of year, this time of moon when the harvest is in and the vines shrivel where the pumpkins once grew fat and saucy as oversized oranges.

I think of those I have known and loved over the years, all gone, like the green leaves, like the fruits we picked, their images scattered among the shadowy hollows and on the silvery ridge tops.  Scraps of paper blown by the wind, the words all a blur, the stains of life captured on yellowing parchment like fading fingerprints or invisible DNA.

I miss them all in this solemnity of night when the moon is full and gilded like some ornament dangling in space.  The loneliness at such times is almost smothering.  The sadness deep and amorphous, without beginning or end.  Where did they all go?  Will they ever return?  I miss them and wonder if they can hear my thoughts through the mist of life and death.

The sky is a vault above the cathedral of these Ozarks woods, and somewhere in my mind is the plaintive strains of a Spanish guitar and the hum of aging fingers on the frets.  The melody is full of minor chords and they clutch at my heart like the grasping fingers of a curious child.

The gold sheen of the moon vanishes as it rises and leaves only a reflection of itself on the tombstones of graveyards.  Leaving behind all the sadness of history and a melancholy that defies logic or measurement.

There is only melancholy when I rise from the table and enter the cabin where I write and dream.

And the lingering sound of a sad flamenco played on an old Spanish guitar.

Jory Sherman is author of Hills of Eden, a nostalgic recollection of his days in the Oark Mountains.


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