Red moon


Here it is hot. My shoulders are naked. The long leaves wag and their shadows wag too. I write most often in a room against a hill, affording a typically Californian view: a steep land and a fence at its top and the roof of the house above, white as a ball, slanted in a midcentury lean-to. One tree’s shade moves over another’s.

This morning I got up early to watch the Blood Moon at totality. Two damp forms, thick as sharks, crossing each other – the color of light through bodies. A consoling sight: the beauty of its fleshy red, and the sense I had of big and living things passing one another in a narrow space. Brushing, politely touching, moving in unusual poses to accomodate their own body so near another’s.

I’ve just begun reading Dream of the Red Chamber, or at least those sections which Mr. H. Bencraft Joly translated. It has the charming contrast characteristic of the best of 18th century European letters, an exquisite propriety of expression applied to lunatic human behavior. Cao Xueqin’s characters move past and amidst one another’s lives, upending friends’ plans, ruining marriages, extending lifesaving generosities, all with mild self-assurance that every of their moves is exactly correct. In their enormous trespasses as in their kindlinesses, I feel the warmth of human society, the nearness of body to body.

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