Night Walk


It’s a crazy CGI of a moon, totally over the top even by Hollywood standards. No one would ever believe this moon on a movie screen: the outrageous roundness of it, the deep gold color of a disk perched barely above stark black branches, the way it’s settled in the center of a soft nest of light against a warm black sky. The paler gray clouds are rushing across it in a wind so high the moon winks and recovers as quickly as it would in a time-lapse film.

The wind is why I’m out this night though the sky is already sputtering horizontal pellets of rain. What a rebuke this weather has been to any claim that fall and spring are the seasons of change, that nothing much happens in winter. The last ten days have brought balmy, shirt-sleeves sun and brutal, bone-tightening cold and days of tree-bending wind. And now the wind is bearing in a cold rain.

When the cartoon moon no longer emerges from the clouds and the rain picks up, the dark world closes. The screen goes black, and now the soundtrack is all that matters. A neighbor’s wind chimes, and then another’s. A clatter of bare sycamore branches and a lighter rattle of seedpods in the dried trumpet vines climbing a power pole. The snapping fabric of a flag. A castanet of stiff leaves in an ancient magnolia standing unperturbed in the rush of air. Dry maple leaves scraping and scudding down the rough asphalt. A train whistle. A siren. A wary greeting from the three-legged dog behind her fence, warning me to come no closer in the dark.