The Night Watch

As a child we lived in a big old brick house with a verandah. My bedroom had a window which looked directly out onto the verandah, and I would sometimes lie in bed with the lights out and the curtains open, and watch the night before falling asleep. One night the outside dark was so compelling I had to sneak out the front door to sit on the verandah and watch.

The pageantry in the sky became so beautiful I wanted to seize and remember it, but, being only 12, I had no camera or video to record it. I crept inside, trying desperately not to alert my parents that I was up and about; I didn’t want to share my night, I felt it would have been ruined. I found a pen and paper and went back out to perch on the edge of the verandah.

It was too dark to actually see what I was writing, but I scrawled down what was happening in the sky as I watched. Once the night sky closed in with the rolling clouds I went back to my room and tried to decipher what I had written. This is it, and, while the writing’s obviously naïve and somewhat contrived, it evocatively transports me to that night, and I am that 12 year old again, in my nightie, sitting on the wooden boards of our verandah, with my feet on the cement path, my body huddling against the wind, and my soul trying to soak up the eternal moment before my parents discover me and damage my connection to it.

Dark clouds almost entirely cloak the endless sky. The moon’s not visible except by the glowing illumination of his clouds. He, shyly, reluctantly, makes an entrance, confidence expanding by the second. He shifts the clouds, gaily dancing as the star of his realm.

Suddenly, confidence wanes for, apparently, no reason, and he abruptly slips behind a cloud. Quickly and defiantly they seem to take over the sky, governing on their own. Swallowing the moon, they seem to dominate.

The wind acquires speed and intensity, ignoring polite conventionalities, as though in league with the evil, scheming clouds. Unrest consumes the sky kingdom, the wind at his most forceful. An unwitting victim of his own subjects, the moon king is captured.

I can still sense the gusts of wind, and see the muted glow of the king shaded by his subject captors, and feel the joy of the bond with the night spectacle.

 

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