Sometimes in the early summer, I stand on the sidewalk and look at the moon. I hold the cat against my fuzzy house coat and he chews on it, sucking and sucking on it, absorbed in safety or contentment or whatever it is cats feel when they nurse. He will do this until he makes my ratty purple robe soaking wet. His mother must have abandoned him with the amoral wisdom that cats possess, possibly due to his extreme wickedness. It is strange to hold a small predator, with fangs and claws, pretending I am his mother for a moment in the moonlight. But it’s okay to be weird in the moonlight. The moon transforms everything it sees into something uncanny and familiar all at once. We are all strange in the moonlight. The distant moon through the flat black silhouettes of the trees, now perfectly clear, now obscured by a translucent cloud, looks down indifferently on me and the cat and some fireflies flickering at random against the inky dark trees. The smell of honeysuckle just haunts the air, sweet, sticky and ghostly like the moon. The moon’s beauty is clear, clichéd, perfect, but still somehow flat and distant as well, an illustrated background for a soothing children’s book. Does it mean anything, I wonder? I ask the moon out loud, “Do you mean something?” I don’t want to ask the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. I doubt the moon wants to be bothered with that. I keep my question simple.
The words still cut through the air in the early summer. If it were late summer, the words would be muffled by the velvety heat and they wouldn’t lift a foot in front of me. I imagine the moon can still hear me this time of year. Why not? The cat shifts to find a dry spot and purrs, badly; he sounds like a small pig. Whether the moon has meaning is not a question to be asked in a church, where meaning is prearranged and agreed upon, but doesn’t consider important things like the significance of a full moon in early summer. It’s not a question for your mother, who might think that her children give meaning to the universe, even though all children must stand under the moon, so aloof it gives them no heed and shines down upon them whether they are happy children or sad. It’s all the same to the moon whether he pours his melted silver light over two teenagers making out on a park bench by a fountain or a burned out car in a war zone. The moon will bestow eerie beauty and bizarre authenticity on whatever he touches. Your mother doesn’t understand how small you are in the universe because the gravity tug of your birth pulled her universe into to a tight, small center. (The cat’s mother might understand how small you are though. If you value your self esteem, do not ask her.)
No...I'm certain that it's a question that only the moon could answer...if he would.
I wait for my answer. The moon does not even look bemused. He too is busy dispensing illusion, pretending that there is beauty in the ugly, and mystery in the well understood to answer my question. But the cat purrs, badly. And the night is warm on my skin. The fireflies flicker here and there. And the moon takes pity on me, looks quizzical for just one instant and says, “Why not?”