I was working here last night, the window beside me half-open; I glanced up and there, low in the sky was the moon, or a part of the moon; it was a warm apricot colour and seemed to cast a strange warm light over the landscape below – except it wasn’t the landscape, it was a bank of clouds which in the dark looked like distant hills.
Recently I have returned to poetic writing, trying to capture my old love of that writing form. Most of what I wrote as a child and teenager was poetry, about all sorts of different subjects, not just love as you might imagine a girl of that age would compose! I wrote one about some boys swimming in the river as we canoed past, about a ghost town in some desert area of the USA which I’d seen in the Westerns I used to love, and a very long and actually ghastly poem about a minstrel boy… Thankfully I don’t think I still have that one!
Having found writing poetry so easy (well, not easy, but it would come to me and I would have something to work with and on) in my twenties and ever since, I seemed to completely lose my poetic instincts, even though often I felt very moved to express something in that form. I wrote a few poems about spades, and one about a thermos flask… but no, I feared that ability was lost.
However a poem suddenly arrived unexpectedly out of a piece of prose I wrote about a recurring image which not exactly haunts me but often occurs to me, of light through trees on water. I’ve written a couple of poems – or the first drafts of a couple of poems, and last night, as I began to falteringly write about the moon, my imagination went to an image of that moon reflected on water seen through trees.
I remembered a poem which often comes to mind, The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes, and that seemed to suggest a way of writing about the real moon I glimpsed, but also the imagined moon. I began to write, looked up, and the moon was gone, completely gone, not even a glimmer in the night, and somehow that matched what I was writing.
This morning I haven’t yet looked at what I wrote but a phrase, maybe a title occurred to me ‘A hanging moon’; I didn’t know if that was a real saying like a hunter’s moon or a harvest moon, but when I looked it up it seems it’s a phrase or a saying meaning an uncritical admiration of someone, for example, ‘He thinks she hung the moon’.
This all needs much thinking about; my ‘hanging moon’ only now exists in my memory, my imagination and the few phrases I jotted down last night before the sky became inky black again. here is what I have so far (I confess I have tinkered a bit this morning!)
A hanging moon
A sudden glimpse, a hanging moon, an apricot half eaten by the night, a sudden rising or falling in the dark.
Glimpsed across roofs and hedgerows, diminishing the street lights, it is coolly observant…
But glimpsed through trees,
(the woodland dark and full of sound,
of creatures of the night,) it seems
hooked or caught on branches.
Maybe it would seem still,
the earth tipped beneath me
as the world rolled round.
And then it’s gone,
– was seen through the open window,
but now it’s gone… swallowed, or hiding.
But glimpsed through trees,
its pale face in the water,
light through trees on water,
moonlight through trees on water,
the creatures of the night stilled,
it might seem the mere was where the moon hung,
an apricot half-eaten by the mere
© Lois Elsden 2018
This is only the first brief potterings of my mind through images and words! I need to follow the hanging moon idea as well… I will update you as and when!
In the meantime, if you haven’t yet read any of my prose, here is a link to my novels, including my latest, ‘Saltpans’: