I sleep with the lights on now. It's not because I'm afraid of the dark, although I used to be afraid of the dark. When I was young and small and my room was always painted pink. I was afraid of the dark only because I thought I was supposed to be. I never believed in monsters under the bed. But so many people said, "don't be afraid of the dark," that I started to think, oh should I be?
I sleep with the lights on to drown out the moonlight. I board up my windows, I plaster over the cracks. Everything to keep the moon beams out. My lamp light swallows up moon bleed, and it's like it was never there. Not a sliver.
I wasn't always like this. Yelling, "keep out moon," and building fences and turning on lamps. Lamps I can control. Moonlight spills in like overturned water glass next to the bed. I loved the moon once. Once I did. Once I believed so sincerely in healing lunar light. In magic.
Enamored with moon stuff and gazing at her, I dreamed about the steps on her face. I sang in my heart how the moon I see before me was the same moon that has touched all living things forever. I sat on a rooftop in Chinatown, trying to learn how to breathe deeply. And the instructor said, “feel the sunlight on your face. Know that the sun you feel is the same sun that was felt by the dinosaurs millions of years ago.” And I began to weep with joy, which made the deep breathing much more difficult, but to weep at the thought of the sun and its sister moon kissing the face of a T-Rex and now looking down on me. To feel connected to such creatures by two heavenly bodies that unite us all, I immediately went home and watched Jurassic Park. Again.
My moon stuff continued, during the eclipse in August, I assembled a crack team of amateur witches, and we sat in the graveyard next to our houses, watching the dinosaur-watchers slowly high five. I brought a container of water to absorb the moon power, which I later tucked away in my fridge, to drink only in emergencies when I need the power and strength of the moon. As we sat in the graveyard, I wrote down the names of my loved ones who had died that year. Two people-shaped holes that will never be patched up. I wrote down what I am leaving behind: fear and regret. I wrote down a wish: let me walk towards challenges more bravely with my head up, especially into the face of love. I have a tendency to encircle Love cautiously, like a wounded, starving animal. Only stalking, never striking, and I end up returning to my cave dissatisfied. I gave all of this to the moon, who in return gave us a beautiful spectacle of movement. One of the greatest afternoons I have ever spent in a graveyard.
I wrote a play about the moon. I have taken photographs of her. I have hung her on my walls. I have wept at lunar modules in museums and heard astronauts speak of her face. I denounced Juliet, and swore by the moon. And I began to truly believe in magic. I began to hope like I’d never let myself hope before. As the world around me crumbled, I began to believe that good things will come to me. Me. A modest little moon witch. And the magic started to move me. I started moving towards the center of this jungle, where Love lived. Or so the legend went. And I didn’t walk in circles, I walked towards love with open eyes, wounded and scraggly animal that I am. I let the moonlight guide me and followed the path that it made, cutting through the jungle trees and leading me home, only to no home that I’d ever known. To where magic and love and relief lived. And I walked into the clearing, thinking that this must be the place. I took careful, ginger steps, but somehow the moonlight cut out suddenly. Darkness enveloping the clearing and I stutter stepped tripped, falling into a mud pit. Somehow I always end up falling into a mud pit. I used my own large arms and sticks and brush to pull myself out, cursing my lack of rope, but I got out using only myself. I looked up for the moon, why did she guide me here? Only to be caked in mud and anger all alone? But she was gone. Barely a star to wink at me. I felt my way through the jungle, squinting and peering, slowly trudging my way home.
That’s the thing about the moon. It’s not magic. There’s a science to its movement. And the moon is not for me, it’s not looking at me. It didn’t see the dinosaurs as they lived and burned, and it doesn’t watch me now. It’s an orb, a floating rock in space. Men stepped on its face once and that’s it. I traveled to Paris to forget about the mud pit, and the moon hid from view the entire time. She must have known I was angry with her, and that I had no use for her in the City of Light. Paris is bright enough without an inconstant moon. Or maybe it was cloud cover and nothing more.
She tricked me, lighting a path of promises that just led to mud. I am many things, but I am no fool. So I board up my windows to keep the light out. I pour the moon water down the drain and I just drink Evian now. I know that magic doesn’t exist. I feel my heart getting harder in my chest. And then I remember, that’s just a muscle. It pumps blood. Nothing else lives in my heart. Uninhabited, like the moon itself. Sometimes the hard-hearted animal that I am catches sight of the moon, poking its head around the corner of a tall building. And I think of blind dinosaurs who never got tricked, but still burned up anyway and so I keep my distance. I pace and I circle, only by lamp light, self-protective, and I wonder who will someday dig up my bones.
About the artist...
Eileen Tull is a writer, theatremaker, and arts educator. Her work has been seen on stages throughout the country, from San Francisco to New York City. In Chicago, she has worked with Salonathon, Collaboraction, Broken Nose Theater, You're Being Ridiculous, among others. Eileen co-hosts Sappho's Salon, a semi-monthly performance series at Women and Children First bookstore. www.eileentull.com
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