(by Amelie Andrezel)
I do not know why there is light, and separately the darkness.
The first cold act of cruel creation was to cleave them from each other’s bosoms, shackling one to the day and the other to the night. I had always believed the origin of the separation to be a practical one: into the light, God could lead his people; into the darkness were cast the wanderers—the lonely, the proud, and the willfull—those for whom Heaven would spare no regard.
But I am lost and I am found.
I’ve come to a place where the twilight is a riddle; where the sun is risen but also set; where the first of all edicts is dashed on the rocks; where man laughs at God with a gnashing of his teeth.
Why is it there is light, and separately the darkness?
The others from the homestead had gone north, to Newton. Everything was north of the homestead; that’s what happened when you lived at the bottom of the world. Whichever way you faced, that way was north. Perhaps that’s why, in the short years of my life, so many had said I was lacking direction.
But that is an opinion. There is no time for opinions, now; I will set them aside.
The others were gone and the homestead was lonely; I’d made up my mind to take out the jeep and survey the perimeter. I have always liked the perimeter. In my quiet and predictable life—a life of duty and a life of labor, such as it’s been—the perimeter was a wild place, the last outpost of uncertainty.
We knew long nights on the homestead, of course. There were backup generators to the backup generators, and a heat reserve installed deep in the ground below the base. But the longest of the long nights only brushed one hundred hours. Beyond the perimeter lay a world of permanent shadow. So tall there, were the mountains of the Moon, so low the zenith of the sun on the horizon, that night was as long as recorded history—longer; much longer.
Any notion I had of the cold, there it was colder. Any impulse I boasted to patience, there slumbered a patience far greater.
Show me a God who fashioned the Heavens and the Earth, who made the sun to shine and the comets to smolder, and I will show you a land to which He denied these things: one banished to shadow, unexplored and unknown, both to man and to beast.
I drove to the perimeter to mind the equipment and gaze out into the void.
Growing up in the highlands, one is accustomed to the subtle beauty of the naked regolith, that dead soil of my homeland, a pulverized mixture of rock and of dust. Here, the dirt is gardened by no man but by the sky itself, slowly overturning with incoming debris. Here, too, is patience. Undisturbed by the footsteps of man, many human generations may pass before a lofted boulder skips across this calmest of ponds, bouncing and skidding like a giant’s skimming stone.
Yes, it is a rare thing indeed, but the highlands in motion are a sight to behold. As a child, I had been out with Mr. Compton and Mr. Chang when a drill motor had blown. We were high up on the ridge, in the bunker well above the blast. When the great, groaning lurch came—the lurch that heaved the ground and tossed us from our chairs—they told me to stay inside; I did not listen.
I ran out onto the ridge, breathless and pursued, just in time to watch the lower factory go.
The explosion, it seemed, had upset the talus near the base of the valley. Here, too, was a place of endless darkness. It was into that cold, black pit—sheltered from the sun by the broad embrace of an enormous crater—that I watched the mountainside disappear. It started a few hundred feet below the ridge, with a silent clattering of a handful of boulders slipping free of the bonds of friction.
When Mr. Newton postulated his Law of Inertia, he could not, in his grandest of fantasies, have imagined the thing that I saw. I think, perhaps, he would have been pleased.
On the Moon, you see, there is no air to drag on a landslide, no hydration in the grains to inflate its viscosity. A landslide on the Moon will run for miles on the shallowest of slopes. On a steep crater rim, it crashes and leaps with the sudden violence of a ruptured dam, sweeping away monoliths like twigs on a swollen river.
It picked up the factory, the three men and two women who worked in it, and carried it off into the darkness. There was dust in every corner of the homestead for months. We ordered new suits five times that year.
I could not have told you why, but I was thinking of the landslide that day on the jeep, out on the perimeter.
[… to be continued]
My darling moon
do we forget how we love each other?
Here in the stacks of yellowed paper,
the collated corpses
of past affairs,
entombed in grey
magnetic data tape
like dust on bowing shelves:
How cluttered we are; how vast.
Do we forget our long nights of conversation
shouting coded messages, waiting
for dampened echoes in reply?
Yes, we forget;
You grow weary of my impulsiveness.
I delude myself you’ll change.
But I see you, wanton,
over foreign streets
on your back or your side,
and I know that you’ll follow,
all my short-lived days:
Be promiscuous, love, when I’ve gone.