Under the Dark Moon

When the moon is dark and summer nights are hot, I delight in riding the ferry, while enjoying nature’s wonders, and studying other souls that make New York the city that never sleeps. That night, my eyes were smiling on a mother and her babe. My heart was full of the tender bliss they spilled into the world.

She sat on a bench, breastfeeding her child. From where I stood, I only saw their silhouette. But I knew the woman was beaming, absolutely high on the bliss of motherhood. There is a kind of energy that rises when one is in the presence of love and caregiving, an oomph that is pure smile fuel.

I didn’t want to smile alone—joy should be shared—so I searched for other faces around the ferry. I knew their grins would be as wide as my own. And the owners of said faces were probably feeling a bit foolish too. I was wrong. My eyes met frowns, revulsion, even disdain.

The general attitude baffled me. Then comprehension hit me like a kick packed with the stink of chosen stupidity—they were disgusted by the mother and child. Idiots, I thought, unnatural animals! I’ve never had much patience for people who label themselves human, but act like heartless hollow-headed beasts.

At that moment, I could’ve spelled their eyeballs out of their sockets. But nature had been wise enough not to put that kind of power in my hands. All I could do was bare my teeth and brew a few growls.

My raging was interrupted by a whimper. The mother was turning her back towards the onlookers, trying to protect her child and her face from the negativity oozing out of the crowd. Some of them had the nerve to shake their heads in her direction, as if she had been the one to make a spectacle of herself.

I took a couple of steps forward, making sure my boots smacked all my disapproval into the deck. Gaia had not given me the power to eye-gouge idiocy with a thought, but she blessed me with much better. I looked up at the sky, fed on the energies of the moon… When my fingertips began to tingle, I aimed open palms and full intent towards the babe’s whimper. Right before my spell shielded mom and babe under a silky veil of Dark Moon, the mother’s eyes twinkled my way. In my heart, her gaze spoke clearly: I, too, thank the universe for natural human magic.

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a wee note…
– Sanaa, over at Prompt Nights, said “We tend to smile in the exact same language”. Then she invited us to write a poem or fiction piece about something that we feel is important to us. So I expanded “Under the Dark Moon”, a bit of fiction that embraces a concept that is rather important to me: the right to be our natural selves in the open… (without having to eye-gouge anyone *cough, cough, cough*).
– This piece was first published in 2011. And it was loosely based on a real event.

Breastfeeding, by Gadi Ramadhani“Breastfeeding”, by Gadi Ramadhani
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Stones, Echoes, Skulls

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!          
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!   
Weave a circle round him thrice,      
And close your eyes with holy dread,          
For he on honey-dew hath fed,        
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
~ Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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“I lost the skull charm three years ago, Grandmother. But there is nothing to worry about. I promise.”

Her eyes grew wide and shiny, so he added a smile to the fib. “Grandmother, there are no echoes. There have never been. I feel a little silly telling you this, but I never really heard them. Or saw anything. I used to wear the charm to bed because it made you happy. That’s all.”

She shook her head and began to fade, slowly gliding backwards towards the opened window, as if pulled by a force she couldn’t control.

“Grandmother? Don’t leave like that. Don’t be upset. I… it’s just that…” He knew he had to tell her, but the lie had gone for so long. He was sure that if he refused to believe in them, they would just go… But their screams just got louder and closer, and her voice faded. “Grandmother, I threw it away. The skull charm, I buried it.”

Her translucent features crumpled, phantom tears filled the wrinkles that cracked her youth. The unseen pulled on her, ripping off her clothes. Before her skin was also torn, the lips of his grandmother’s spirit mouthed: Stones, stones, stones…

It was the last time he saw her, years ago, when the dead only whispered from the shadows. The first echoes began to take shape the night he turned twenty-one. He went back for the skull charm, but the earth had eaten the protection. He returned home with hands and pockets full of stones.

Placing the rocks around him didn’t quiet the dead, but it kept their skulls from smothering him into madness. Some nights, when he fell asleep between books and stones, he could hear the echoes of his grandmother’s warnings: Beware, beware…

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a wee note…
– First published in 2014. This wee tale was born while a motif from my AlmaMia Cienfuegos world, my favorite bit from Kubla Khan and the illustration below dance in my head. I’m linking to Prompt Nights – Let’s gather around for some ghost stories (Sanaa, thanks so much for helping me revive my oldies).

Poet's Sleep, by Chang Houg Ahn“Poet’s Sleep”, by Chang Houg Ahn