It’s been years since I’ve gone for a swim in moonlight but last night should have been the night. If I’d gone, if I’d gathered towels, put on my bathing suit, or not, I’d have walked under these trees to the shore of the lake. And looking up, this is where the moon would have shown its fullness, crossing the great sky in the early days of summer.
Waking last night, looking out to the Strawberry Moon, I remembered the years when John taught in North Vancouver in May and June, and I’d read until the small hours in bed on my own. I remembered the books I read, Jack Gilbert and Linda Gregg, The Age of Innocence, Tillie Olsen’s Silences, I remembered listening to loons, to owls, and I remembered the night when the news was full of stabbings and murders and how I took a carving knife up to bed, handy on the next pillow, and how when I woke next morning, looking for my keys to drive children to preschool, I discovered they were still in the door.
Watching a family of five loons cross the lake this morning, hearing them warble and cry, then not seeing them and realizing they all dived at the same moment, as one, watching the sun through the trees where I imagined moonlight, I thought of time passing, how it was only last week (was it?) that the loons were small enough to ride their mother’s back, that we were all here, swimming between the wild spirea and ninebark, that everything changes, disappears in one form to return in another, and I thought of this poem, by Izumi Shikibu, translated by Jane Hirshfield:
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.