The Moon Is My Mother

It's almost dark out.  I am three years old in a yellow flannel nightie and I have been told My Story:  That I am adopted by two nice people who take care of me and chose me for my brown eyes.  But I am lonely. I have memories already.  I have good sense. I have a reason to be careful.

I lie in wait for the household behind my closed bedroom door to settle down into safe, shadowy, quiet, clock-ticking, stair-creaking self-possession. I like it when only the house is breathing.

I comfort myself lying down in the gray twilight coming from the window.  Slowly, I run my fingernails across my own chubby toddler arms, stroking gently and repetitively until my hands tire. I hum softly to myself in the half light and fool around in my bed with my favorite stuffed animals – a ridiculous plush yellow and red rooster and a soft floppy gray elephant -- while the evening’s lavender illumination dims outside to final long shadows.  

It’s fully dark at last…. UP I spring!  I have to stretch on my tiptoes and lean precariously from the side of my big girl bed where the window sill is, hanging onto my gray vinyl headboard with one hand and reaching for the window sill with the other, risking a dangerous parental-summoning crash to the floor if I slip. I am forbidden to step one foot out of the bed behind the shut door. But they don’t call me “Monkey” for nothing. 

I keep all ten toes on the mattress. I have to see out the window! 

I hang deliberately at a forty five degree angle, holding my breath until I see her.

There's the glowing orb rising from behind the mountain.  She’s my own personal greeter, subtly mottled in lunar blue-white, serene and hanging languorously in the night sky, wearing her Mona Lisa smile. She’s “the moon” – I know because I asked the grownups.

Inside myself, I also know that she’s female. I know that she’s friendly. Motherly.  Benign. Mine.

She confuses me by hanging obligingly but intermittently outside my childhood bedroom window in the Kentucky night sky, changing shape and substance. Where is she when she's not here? I attend her rising, mesmerized, like early man must have done, huddled outside his yawning cave. Like a tribal sister to these early forbears, I too linger. I watch my back yard movie over time: Nightly, transfixed, waiting hopefully when she’s not there and laughing like I've scored the lottery when she is!

I am beginning my lifelong magical relationship with this mysterious jewel in the heavens.  I'm also just an innocent baby in a flannel gown in 1950, standing in awe of the Great Moon Goddess and unaware of her true significance to me personally. But my reverence is much, much older than my short little years.

I don't know the word 'poignant' yet. I don't understand why I am forlorn and bereft and disconnected to the people around me. I somehow know the Moon would talk to me – could explain it all. My night sky glowing visitor gratifies me with her light and beams an ancient immanence of wise power into the window.

Finally, I can curl up under my quilt.

I won't learn that the Moon traditionally represents Mother and nurturing until I formally study Astrology twenty one years later. We astrologers are apparently born metaphorically recognizing the symbols of our sky art, because birth chart Moons equal Mommy and emotions.  It explains everything...

- Paula Quertermous