Earth Journal
Vol. 9, No. 34
August 23-29, 2001
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The Moon’s Flower
by Audrey Y. Scharmen

In the midst of a sultry night, I slip out into the darkness to see the flower. She is the first of the season. Her fragrance, sweetly Southern, mingles with the salty scent of the Bay. The half moon has set and the sky throbs with stars; a conversation of crickets is punctuated with the squawks of a restless heron in the shallows nearby.

Born of a beloved bud laboring long in the rose-streaked dusk, ephemeral babe brought forth in a convulsive crescendo of cicadas, the powerful prelude to a lullaby …

I look warily for the large spider who summers here on the porch. She is busily tidying her web of trophies; thus she pays me no mind. I keep an eye out for the black snake who lives in the yard, and hope he is not nocturnal. He is a friendly creature, but I want no chance encounters.

Since summer’s advent (when I plant each year the odd beanlike seeds of moon vines in garden corners and clay pots) I have awaited this moment. I have tended them zealously - protected them from predatory bunnies and beetles - and watched the tendrils climb patiently skyward in search of the mother. With gentle nudges and occasional boosts from me, they are propelled to the balcony, to the pinnacle of a flagpole there, which marks the end of their odyssey.

They are special, blooming as they do in the ashen remains of August. They bear saucer-size moons, luminous, cool and pristine as their namesake, each etched appropriately, mysteriously, with a star. They seem oblivious of drought, their enormous leaves fresh and green in a landscape that has been withered by a great golden orb and bleached dry as the spider’s prey.

The flowers are ghosts of my childhood, the same that blossomed beneath my bedroom window throughout the dust-bowl summers of the 1930s. They flourished in a sun-cracked yard where seldom grew anything, their heavy fragrance drifting whitely as an apparition through the darkened rooms of the weathered old house.

So it is, here in another time, another place, they bloom again outside my bedroom. And here, still, is a child’s sense of wonder in the presence of ephemera.

Abandoned by the night in a pale mauve dawn, a dying blossom in a shadowed bier, mourned by Argiope, a great green moth and the face of a child damp with tears …

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly